POSTED ON JUNE 5, 2013:
Getting Ready to Rumble
Bikers unite to grant wishes
Whenever the term "biker" is thrown around, the first thing that comes to mind is often a big, bearded guy with a bad attitude wearing shades, a bandana strapped across his head, and a leather jacket with some kind of insect, animal, or skull etched on the back. This is, of course, a notoriously stereotypical caricature of a biker. Although there may still be a few bikers out there who fit this description, the truth is that most of them are your next-door neighbor, your co-worker, a family member, or the man or woman sitting next to you at church. Just like everyone else, bikers care very much about their fellow man, and the majority of them have huge hearts.
Over the years, there have been many motorcycle-oriented charity events that have changed the perception of bikers. One of the biggest events of this kind is the annual Rumble & Roll in the historic Brookside neighborhood, Tulsa's premier shopping and entertainment district. This event, now in its 12th year, attracts hundreds of motorcycle riders and thousands of spectators every year. This year, the riders will rev their engines up loudly for the Rumble on June 6. The event kicks off with a parade of bikers that begins in the parking lot just north of the TU Reynolds Center on 11th Street and Harvard, weaving through Cherry Street, and eventually landing in Brookside. If you have never seen hundreds of motorcycles roaring in procession through the streets of Tulsa, then you must make sure you make it to the Rumble this year; it is quite a sight.
All riders will line up in the TU Reynolds Center parking lot at 5:30pm, and the parade begins at 7pm. Once the parade is completed, there will be a huge street party between 33rd and 36th Streets on S. Peoria Avenue with plenty of food vendors, fellowship, and live music courtesy of Oklahoma's own Mary Cogan and her band.
Entry fee for the event is just $10 per rider, with every penny of the money going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma to help make wishes come true for young children dealing with life-threatening illnesses. Make-A-Wish finances its endeavors through corporate sponsors, foundations, service clubs, individual contributions, and fundraisers like the Rumble.
"We have had a great partnership with the organizers of the Rumble over the past 12 years," said Jane Rohweder, public relations and marketing director for Make-A-Wish Oklahoma. "This event is such a good fit for Make-A-Wish because it is an easy charity for the riders to support."
The street party is free thanks to the generosity of local corporate sponsors, but individual donations will be accepted until the end of the street party. Registrants and donors are also eligible for a drawing for a $2,500 shopping spree at Myers-Duren Harley-Davidson. Last year, the event raised $14,407 which was enough to grant two wishes. In 2011, they raised $13,700.
Sponsors to date include Myers-Duren Harley-Davidson, Budweiser, Bob Hurley Ford, Whole Foods, Taco Bell, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, Wolfgang Puck Bistro, In The Raw, Full Moon Café, Old Village Wine & Spirits, The Enclave at Brookside Apartments, Blue Moon Café, The Brook, Sharky's on Brookside, Thunder Roads Magazine, KMOD, Urban Tulsa Weekly, City Church, Tulsa Area #1 HOG Chapter, and the Brookside Business Association.
Every year, the event organizers, with assistance from the folks at Make-A-Wish Oklahoma, choose a Wish Ambassador to be the grand marshal of the parade. Historically, the child chosen has received their wish from the foundation prior to the event. Families of the children have been more than enthusiastic to volunteer their time to the Rumble to help other children receive their wish and the kids themselves love riding in the parade.
The Wish Ambassador for 2013 is Elijah Ramirez, a six-year-old young man from Tulsa who was diagnosed with a gene mutation at 8 months old, but that has not stopped him from enjoying life and making friends wherever he goes. He has a big personality with a keen sense of humor. He loves being outdoors and swimming, so when Make-A-Wish Oklahoma asked Eli for his one wish, he asked to go to Hawaii and swim in the ocean. The foundation sent Eli, his mom, dad, and older sister to the island of Oahu last August. He attended a luau, went snorkeling and even got the opportunity to swim with the dolphins. How cool is that? As the Wish Ambassador, Eli will get to ride in the sidecar of the lead parade motorcycle driven by the brainchild of the event, Johnny McClanahan, motorcycle enthusiast and general manager at Myers-Duren Harley-Davidson here in Tulsa.
According to Pat Kroblin, event coordinator for the Rumble, McClanahan is a financial backer and one of the biggest cheerleaders for this gathering. He motivates the riders to volunteer, runs the parade staging and the street party, and he even talked his brother into managing the event's website.
"Without Johnny, this event would never have happened or continue to live," said Kroblin.
The first Rumble & Roll was inspired by a similar charity event sponsored by the Harley Owners Group, or H.O.G. for short. They called it Motoring the Mother Road, a cross-country motorcycle road trip along historic Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles with Tulsa as one of the many stops along the way. The annual charity event raised funds for muscular dystrophy.
"We had so much fun that we wanted to do something like it here in Tulsa," McClanahan said when asked about why he started the Rumble in the first place.
"We looked around for a local charity we could partner with and we were happy to find Make-A-Wish Oklahoma," he said. "At the end of the day, the kids are our inspiration. It's all about the kids. I'm the lucky one because I get to spend time with these kids."
The turnout for the event has grown exponentially over the years. In the first Rumble, there were about 300 riders and 3,000 spectators who watched the parade and enjoyed the street party. The turnout last year was 700 riders and somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 spectators. Obviously, the Rumble organizers have struck a chord with the local community.
So what keeps people coming back to the event year after year?
"A great street party," answered Kroblin. "We've had great bands, like Midlife Crisis and The Big Band Theory, who provided music for the party in the past and this year we have Mary Cogan. Plus, you see families, fathers with young sons... the whole gambit of people who like to just come look at the bikes all lined up."
Whether you are a full-time motorcycle enthusiast, an occasional rider, or if you don't ride at all but like to have a good time, this event has something for you. The fact that the event helps grant wishes for a special set of kids is icing on the cake.
Make sure you mark your calendars for Thursday, June 6, and come out and support the bikers and the Make-A-Wish foundation. If this is not your first ride through the Rumble, then you know what to expect and it might be a good idea to tell someone about it.
For more information, visit www.rumbleandroll.com and check out photos from previous Rumbles.
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