The weekend of August 4th was not only gorgeous, but it was the 5th annual L.A. Ride For Autism. This event is near and dear to my heart, and I have been honored to be their Grand Marshal for the last 4 years. The day always starts at Laidlaws Harley Davidson in Baldwin Park where everyone registers, has coffee and donuts, listens to some great tunes, and shares in the camaraderie of the biker brotherhood. (That includes the sisterhood too…can’t forget about the ladies!)
Every walk of biker shows up – cruisers, race bikes, café racers, and even some non-riders –and all give their time and money to this great event. From motorcycle clubs to lawyers to factory workers to stay-at-home moms and dads –you name it and they’re there. They quickly take over the Laidlaws’ huge parking lot, turning it into a sea of motorcycles and a thing of beauty.
This year we rode to The Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas, where the home stretch of the ride took us up P.C.H. to Malibu Canyon, and down to The Sagebrush. (On a side note: the Sagebrush Cantina does a kids night every Tuesday and it’s a blast!! There’s a puppet show, face painting, and tattoos –the kids love it!)
The Sagebrush Cantina donated all the food for 300 riders and their awesome patio had live music, dancing, and lots of raffle prizes. Everybody just has a good ol’ rip roarin’ time! People say bikers have the biggest hearts – they gladly give of themselves and this event lets them go for a great ride, raise some money, and get a chance to relax and forget about their workweek.
On a not so great note, our numbers were down by half this year. I know the economy is taking a toll on everyone, but it’s so important to get involved and help these incredible bright, loving and amazing kids and their families. Your donation really does make a huge difference. This weekend, I met kids on all ends of the Autism spectrum, from those who are graduating from bartending school to those talking for the first time to those being integrated in regular classrooms. Through the money raised by L.A. Ride For Autism, they are being given chances they wouldn’t otherwise have gotten.
I heard heartbreaking stories of families that were dropped by their insurance carriers or were denied coverage because these carriers considered speech problems as a pre-existing condition. I heard of families running out of insurance coverage and then losing their jobs. But I don’t take pity on these families –they are fighters, and so are their children. They battle each and everyday to make ends meet, and see that their children get the care they deserve.
Because of my passion for this cause, people often ask me if I have a child or anyone in my family who is on the Autistic spectrum. I tell them I don’t –but I believe as a father of four (with another on the way!) and a husband, it is my duty and honor to give back and help out my fellow man and community. I strongly hope that others in our nation’s community feel the same way.
Please, get involved. Give your time and volunteer. If you don’t have the time, even the smallest donations will go a long way. These bright and creative little angels we have been blessed with are here to show us what really matters in life: family and unconditional love.
It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a nation to raise an autistic one. It’s time to step up and make a difference.
Have you ever volunteered for a cause that was important to you?