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North County motorcycle riders make 100-mile run for Special Olympics

SMOKEY POINT — Sound Harley-Davidson of Smokey Point served as the starting point for the Marysville Police Department’s seventh annual charity ride for Special Olympics Aug. 1, in which more than 100 motorcycle riders traveled a roughly 100-mile loop before finishing their run at Comeford Park in Marysville.

“That’s way over our usual number,” said Patricia Duemmell, an evidence technician with the Marysville Police Department who’s coordinated fundraising events for Special Olympics for the past six years. “We’ve averaged about 60 riders in the past. The day’s great weather doesn’t hurt, I’m sure. I’m so excited to do events like this. I love supporting the athletes and meeting new riders. Some of the riders we have here have come out for the past six or seven years. I’ve never actually ridden with them myself.”

Sound Harley has served as the starting point of the ride for the past three of those years, and Sound Harley Marketing Manager Kari Korsgren expressed pride in the growth in attendance that she’s seen during that time, especially considering the cause that it benefits.

“Harley-Davidson is all about kids,” Korsgren said. “We do fundraising events for Special Olympics and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. We also work a lot with the Marysville Kiwanis, and do work on the Marysville Police motorcycles. We want to give back to the community that takes care of us so well, and our customers have really big hearts.”

Members of the Marysville Kiwanis Club were serving breakfast to attendees at Sound Harley as early as 7:30 a.m., and by the time that waves of motorcycles were heading out from Sound Harley to start their run at 9 a.m., Mike Ferri of the Marysville Kiwanis Club estimated that they’d served approximately 110 breakfasts of blueberry pancakes, burritos, scrambled eggs, hash browns and sausages, generating an estimated $150 for Special Olympics in the process, in addition to the day’s attendance fees.

Gary Hall, an Arlington resident who serves as a Marysville Police officer, has made the run since it started seven years ago. He served this year as one of half a dozen team leaders, for groups of more than a dozen riders each, to help them stay on course and avoid getting lost. The run took roughly three hours for most riders, with 10 pit stops along the way, and Dick’s Towing provided free service to any riders whose motorcycles went down along the way.

“I love the friendship of the atmosphere at this event, and the freedom of riding,” said Hall, who’s been riding Harleys since 2004, and motorcycles in general “all my life.” His love of the freedom of riding was echoed by every other rider interviewed, as was his support for the Special Olympics.

Clint Moll has been riding in the run since it came to Sound Harley three years ago, but this marked the first year that his daughter Ashley was able to join him. Ashley, a 16-year-old on her summer break from the Marysville Arts and Technology High School, wasn’t able to join her father last year since she couldn’t get time off from work, but she appreciated having “daddy-daughter time” with him during this year’s run.

As for Moll himself, he’s a sergeant at the Snohomish County Jail who’s been riding motorcycles for the past eight years, and when he heard about the event through fellow law enforcement personnel, he knew he had to take part. He also rides for MDA charity runs, and enjoys being able to take to the open road for a good cause.

“I started riding on my commute, for fuel economy and because it was quick,” Moll said. “I came to love it as a sport and for its sense of community. You’re always meeting new people and connecting with old friends. Besides, it just feels better on two wheels than on four.”

Marysville City Council member Lee Phillips and Mayor Dennis Kendall were both on hand for the event. Phillips, joined by his sister-in-law, was riding in the run for his fifth year, while Kendall greeted Everett Special Olympians Marvin Vanbuskirk and J.J. Reba at Sound Harley. Kendall praised the Marysville Police Department for “getting behind Special Olympics 100 percent” each year, while Phillips noted that both he and his mother have been involved with Special Olympics for years, in his case in a coaching capacity.

“There’s a lot of good people here, and you meet new ones each year,” said Phillips, who’s been riding motorcycles for the past seven years. “Each year, it’s a different run, but it’s the about same length of time. You get to learn a whole new path each time. I’ve ridden the back roads of Stanwood and La Conner, as well as the longest way to Anacortes. It’s relaxing.”

Elaine Nave, head coach of six different sports for Special Olympics in Everett, had never attended this run before this year.

“Wow,” Nave said. “I hadn’t realized it was such a big event. I’d heard about it, but I’m impressed by the spirit and involvement of this community.”

For their part, Reba encouraged others to pitch in, donate and get involved, while Vanbuskirk touted the boost that competing in Special Olympics can give one’s self-esteem, as well as the positive relationships it forges between participants.

“You come away from it with a sense of accomplishment,” Vanbuskirk said. “It gives you a chance to try something new.”

During the barbecue lunch at the end of the run in Comeford Park, Steve Winters reflected on the event that he’d helped start with other Marysville Police officers, including then-Chief Bob Cardin. Winters, an Arlington resident, has since retired from the Marysville Police Department, but he’s continued to ride in the run.

“It just gets better and better every year,” said Winters, a 14-year motorcycle rider. “I’m very pleased with this turnout. It increases awareness for Special Olympics, and it’s great to see the community lining up to help benefit it. Plus, with riding, you get that sense of scenery, where you can smell the wildflowers and feel the temperature cool when you pass a waterfall. It’s food for the senses.”

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