Last Saturday, a group of more than 300 motorcycle enthusiasts gathered for a special purpose.
They met at the Winnipeg Evangelical Free Church to participate in a Ride for Neil, a fundraiser in support of Neil Klippenstein, a local motorcyclist who was rear-ended by a car on Aug. 31 while he was stopped at a traffic light on his Honda Goldwing.
Klippenstein is now a quadriplegic, and the ride was organized to help his family deal both spiritually and financially with this tragic situation.
My buddy, 'Evel' Dave Radey, and I are proud members of the local motorcycle community and we made our way to the church to support for our fellow rider. Neither of us thought we knew Klippenstein, but that didn't matter -- we cherish the common bond that motorcycle riders share.
Moments after arriving at the church we were greeted by Chuck Sheridan, president of the Bondslave Motorcycle Club, a group of Christian riders who have become our friends over the years. Sheridan pointed out Neil's son Ryan, and mentioned how much he looked like his dad.
At that moment, my heart sank. After seeing Ryan, I realized that while I may not have known Neil Klippenstein by name, I've photographed him numerous times. The photographs I have of him show a strapping young man with a glimmer in his eye, enjoying a fun-filled day with his friends and family.
I even posted a video of Neil's motorcycle prowess on YouTube a couple of years ago, when he was wowing the crowd at the annual Bondslave motorcycle rally doing burnouts and drag-racing on his Honda.
On the surface, you'd think that antics like burnout contests and drag-racing are dangerous. But the reality is that the most dangerous activity for riders is often just doing what Neil did -- just sitting at an intersection waiting for the light to turn green.
Throughout the day, I couldn't shake the horror that Neil must be living with now. In the blink of an eye, everything changed for him. Imagine, one minute you're sitting on your motorcycle stopped at a traffic light, and the next you're laying in a hospital bed, lucky to be alive and facing an uncertain future.
Sheridan, who visited Neil in the hospital, told us the most amazing thing about him is how strong his spirit is, even in light of this grim situation.
There were many kind words about Neil, and a pile of money was raised to help his family in their time of need. But perhaps the most touching sentiment was the huge crowd that showed up to support a fallen rider. We may not all know Neil Klippenstein by name, but we know his spirit, and we feel his pain.
Our hearts are with you, buddy, and we want you to know that we're here for you.
If you'd like to help Neil's family, please call Dolores at 791-3013.
Running with toys
The sun may have been glaring, but you couldn't help but feel like it was Christmas in September last Sunday when the Manitoba Street Rod Association hosted its 16th annual Toy Run at the Taxation Centre parking lot in Transcona.
It was the largest Toy Run to date, with more than 400 owners of classic and special-interest vehicles showing up with a new unwrapped toy in support of the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation. The toys were destined for the children's waiting room at the Rehab Centre for Children, and are also given to kids who have appointments at the centre to help brighten their day.
George Knight, a long-time MSRA member and the chairman of the Toy Run, said more than $50,000 has been raised by the MSRA in support of this charity over the years. As well as the massive amount of donated toys, the club has also raised money to buy specialized equipment and adapted bicycles for special-needs children. Way to go, folks. Cruising for a cause -- it's a Winnipeg thing!
Final cruise night of the season this Sunday
LAST Sunday, Tavern United in Transcona wrapped up another great cruising season, and this Sunday the final cruise night of the year takes place at the Grant Park Pony Corral.
The show is presented by the fun-loving folks from the Manitoba Pontiac Association (incorporating Buick and Oldsmobile). The show is open to all classic and special-interest vehicles and is free for both participants and spectators.
Throughout the summer, folks attending the Pony Corral events have been putting their names in a massive drum in hopes of winning a share of the more than $10,000 in prizes up for grabs on Sunday.
The big show runs from 3-10 p.m., and yours truly will be the master of ceremonies. It's been a terrific summer -- let's wrap it up with one more magical night!