Blessing of the Bikes event raises money for kids and veterans
Wed, 05/24/2023 - 9:59am caleb
Nonprofit organization conducts first annual motorcycle event at Hanson Hills on Saturday, May 20
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Hanson Hills Recreation Area hosted a Blessing of the Bikes motorcycle event on Saturday, May 20, as a local group raised money to help members of the community.
A local 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Grayling Blessing of the Bikes conducted the May 20 event. Eric Skillern, of Grayling, one of the event organizers, said a few friends did a small version of the blessing last year and decided to turn it into an annual fundraiser to help local children and veterans in need.
“We did a little blessing last year. There were only five bikes,” Skillern said.
Skillern said the group – some of whom attend the same church and some of whom are military veterans – formed the nonprofit organization, started gathering sponsorships and lining up vendors for the event, and created a Facebook page for the Grayling Blessing of the Bikes.
“There was a lot of interest across the state,” Skillern said.
Skillern said money raised through the event will go to “kids and veterans.” The group this year is looking to help a local girl with medical bills, organizers said. Also, the VFW is helping the group to select veterans who need financial assistance so Grayling Blessing of the Bikes can make direct payments to them, Skillern said.
Skillern said the group meets once a month and plans for the blessing event were made “sitting around the dining table.”
“It’s been a learning process. None of us knew how to do this,” Skillern said.
Skillern said he was “happy” with how the event turned out this year, and the group is looking to make the Grayling Blessing of the Bikes an annual event.
On Saturday, the Blessing of the Bikes included raising of the American flag, playing of the national anthem, a few words about the background and purpose of the event, a prayer, and a group ride.
Event organizers said more than 40 motorcycles departed from Hanson Hills during the ride, plus there were other motorcyclists present with their bikes at the event.
Skillern said the ride was planned to be approximately 88 miles (two hours) with a short break near the halfway point. The course included parts of Old Lake Road, M-93, M-72, Old 27, Old State Road, Meridian Line Road, County Road 612, County Road 489, and the I-75 Business Loop. The ride started and ended at Hanson Hills.
Justin Andre, Director of Operations for Hanson Hills, said it was a good event for the facility.
“It’s a new user group for our area and we’re super excited to host,” Andre said.