Harley Day to offer motorcycle rides for people with disabilities
Despite 12 years of organizing motorcycle rides for people with disabilities, Edi Bowerman easily identified her favorite Harley Day moment.
"In the first year, one of our consumers had been in a wheelchair his entire life," Bowerman said. "At the end of the day, he turned to me and said 'I never thought I would get to ride on one.' That cemented in me that I would find a way to do this every year."
On July 26, motorcycle enthusiasts will volunteer their time and bikes to give rides around the parking lot of Mid Michigan Industries, 2426 Parkway Drive.
The main goal of the event is to give people an experience that they would not have access to otherwise.
Typically around 100 rides are given each year either in a side car or on the passenger seat. Also available for participants are free hot dogs, chips and water, as well as tattoos.
Bowerman said Harley Day is stronger than ever thanks to the generous efforts of volunteers in the community. The event is free to all, because some people with disabilities live on a fixed income.
One of these dedicated Harley Day helpers is Diann Turnwald, who coordinates the 20-30 motorcycles and their drivers. Turnwald and her husband Tony have been involved for 10 years and are both avid motorcyclists.
Turnwald works for Listening Ear Crisis Center in Mount Pleasant, a human service agency that offers a variety of programs to the community. She also manages several adult foster care homes.
She was approached for help and got her riding group involved. Turnwald said the group will often tell her that they love having the experience of giving someone the chance to share their passion for riding.
Turnwald has a similarly poignant Harley Day memory of working with a person with a seizure disorder.
"I took him on the back of my motorcycle and he was so happy that he was on the bike, he had a huge smile on his face," she said. "After that, the group I ride with got together and bought him a motorcycle vest and he hardly ever took it off."
Turnwald added some of the people involved in the man's in-house program were reluctant to let him on the bike, fearing it may trigger an episode. Yet the man showed nothing but elation while on the bike.
New to this year's event, tickets are being sold for a hog roast meal with pork donated from a farm in Weidman.
Tickets for the hog roast are $8 and will be sold prior to the event and at the door. The meal includes a pork roast, bread roll, two sides, drinks and a dessert.
Participants looking for a ride will need a consent form signed by themselves or guardian.