Neither rain, nor wind, nor abnormally cold temperatures could keep a crowd of women riders from raising money for MDA and riding in the Harley-Davidson Womens Parade in Daytona Beach in early March 2010.
This marked the third year for the Harley-Davidson sponsored parade. Eighty women endured the lousy weather to do their part and share in that special female-brand of camaraderie enjoyed at events like these. Most importantly, the small gathering (compared to the last two parades) still raised more than $25,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Barbara Festing from Nova Scotia, Canada, learned about the parade last year but didnt have her bike available to ride. This year she made sure she had her Heritage Softail at the parade. She said she admires the work MDA does and wanted to raise money. She solicited more $2,200 in one week from friends around the globe and was the parades second highest fundraiser.
Aileen she says her pooch Maggie shares her enthusiasm for the road as well. “If you leave the house for a ride and shes not in the box on the back of the bike, shes not happy at all.”
Jeannine Wilder from Bradenton, Florida, says she didnt learn to ride until she was 50. Shes now been riding for nine years. “I think these events for women are great because it encourages women to get out and do something they might not do. At first I was scared to death of bikes, but now its the best thing in my life. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I can get on my bike and go wherever and whenever I want with or without anybody else.”
Kim Billingsley cut short her vacation to Key West just so she could participate in the Womens Parade. She has ridden more than 60,000 miles in three years! The reason she rides? “I just love the freedom of getting out by myself and clearing my head. My Harley is my stress reliever, my therapy.”
After leaving the Speedway, the parade wound through area roads for an 11-mile ride which included a parade first, a ride down “Main Street,” the hallowed center of activity for Bike Week revelers. At Harley-Davidson headquarters on Beach Street, the riders gathered to hear words of thanks from Motor Company officials
Karen told WRN, “This energizes me. Women who ride feel very empowered so theres this infectious energy thats conveyed from one woman rider to another. It makes me think about how much more potential we have because of this spirit and how we can encourage other women who may be interested in this sport.”
Karen noted that March is Harley-Davidsons National Garage Party Month with events being held all over the country at Harley dealerships where women can attend to learn more motorcycling. More than 400 garage parties around the country are scheduled during this month. Visit this WRN news story for more information.
Lisette Deschamps has been a motorcycle officer the last six years (and motorcycle instructor to officer trainees). She told WRN its exciting for her to see all these women riders on the road together. “The womens parade is definitely a great event. I like to be able to encourage the women who come out and if they can see me, say, make a sharp turn, then they might be willing to because Im no bigger or no different from them. I hope I encourage women to try.”
We have three more photos to share from the event with you. Deborah Speicher, a faithful WRN reader from Tampa, Florida, provided some pictures she took that follow. Shes been to all three of the Harley womens rides.
Here are Deborahs thoughts on the Harley Womens Ride:
The MDA people were ecstatic as our group drove into the staging area. Many other woman followed suit as the sun began to break through the dark clouds. The Daytona Beach Motor Police once again did a great job of escorting us. Since Harley-Davidson moved its location from the Ocean Center to Beach Street, the route was changed and for the better. We actually rode down Main Street with cheering crowds and no traffic gridlock! The city also blocked off part of Beach Street so we could all park our bikes there in front of the Harley-Davidson tent. Pretty impressive.
Even more impressive were the children (all afflicted with muscular dystrophy) and their parents who came out to the staging area and then met us at the end of the ride. These children are the ones who benefit from the monies we raised that day. They and others will be able to attend an MDA Summer Camp for free.
Karen Davidson, was there to talk and later mingle with the ladies. However, when the children and their parents got on stage and thanked us for what we had done for them, I dont believe there was a dry eye in the house. I participate in a lot of charity rides and events, but this is always the one that is so emotional for me. For any woman who didnt or couldnt participate, they should consider it for next year. I think this might be a great motivator for those still riding on the back to get their motorcycle endorsement and their own bike, especially if they ever had the opportunity to watch and be a part of this event.