HERMON – Community members gather on motorcycles to help raise money for those wanting to improve their reading.
Rev your motorcycles because it is time to ride for a good cause. This annual event is bringing community members together to drive 80 miles for the “Leathers for Literacy Benefit Ride”.
“It is all about awareness for adults who have literacy barriers, who want to read better, write better and speak English better,” said Mary Lyon, executive director for Literacy Volunteers of Bangor.
Partnered with Central Maine Harley-Davidson for their third annual event, The literacy of Bangor helps over 300 people each year for free, all through volunteers and donations.
“What we do is pair adults who have asked for our help with somebody from the community who want to volunteer,” said Lyon, “we provide a free service and we are also raising a few dollars in the meantime.”
Volunteers unite, selling raffle tickets for prizes and for a chance to stay overnight at the Hollywood Casino.
“We have kayak and paddle and a lot of other smaller raffle that motorcycle enthusiasts will appreciate,” said Lyon.
Susan Gaspar, is the mastermind behind the event. She has been riding motorcycles since high school while she was in Hawaii and wants to mix her two loves together, which are to ride bikes and teach people.
“You go to school, then college and you have these gifts given to you and it’s up to us to develop that,” said Gaspar, “if I can bring myself from rags to riches as it were, we can learn a little bit and carry that message through.”
Hundreds attended the event, where discounts were given to the motorcyclists supporting it.
“They had an open house and graciously allowed us to use their facility here,” said Gaspar, “it’s symbiotic, we bring the bikers and they provide discounts, we have music and it’s a party atmosphere to celebrate what we are all about.”
“We all come together bikers in the community anyway, anytime someone needs a lending hand, we come together as one big family,” said Dakota Crosby, parts manager for Harley-Davidson. “There’s nothing like brotherhood of bikers, one big family related by the badge,” he added.
Kristen Wallace is also a volunteer and events like these remind her why she majored in education.
“I could volunteer at a soup kitchen or at an animal shelter, but if I could teach somebody how to read, it will go on forever,” said Wallace.
Through the program she was able to help someone who spoke another language get a job in retail and obtain a driver’s license.
“It’s extremely crucial that we get the awareness out there because there are so many people that need help and we need volunteers all the time,” said Wallace.
After riding for two and a half hours, motorcyclists built up quite an appetite.
“It’s a beautiful day to be outside, we’ve got burgers, hot dogs for free and we’ve got Darling’s Ice Cream Truck taking donations, it’s perfect,” said Wallace.