The Good Ride: Motorcycle groups hit the road to support charity

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY BUSINESS
The Jefferson County Warthogs hold a charity run that is co-sponsored by F.X Caprara Harley Davidson. Some of the members are, from left, Dave “Hef” Bulterman Sr., Lenny “Clutch” Robbins, Bob “Trouble” Towles, Sam “Hazmat” Dibble, Dave “Yukon” Bulterman Jr., Pete “Spud” Chartrand and Joe “Bogie” Bourgal.

BY: Norah Machia
People often stereotype motorcycle clubs because of negative images that have been perpetuated in American culture and mass media. Yet the vast majority of people who belong to motorcycle organizations join because of a shared interest in riding, and in many cases, a desire to help others.

     “There is a big stigma about motorcycle clubs,” said David E. Bulterman Jr., a retired corrections officer.  “They have an image of a criminal aspect because of how riders are often portrayed in movies and television shows.”

    But that image isn’t an accurate one for the vast majority of motorcycle clubs, said Mr. Bulterman, who is the sergeant-at-arms for the Warthogs Motorcycle Club of Jefferson County. That motorcycle group is composed of corrections officers, police officers, court officers and paid firefighters and first responders.

     The national Warthogs organization started in Detroit as a way to support families of fallen police officers, and other public servants, he said. The Jefferson County chapter started in 2001 and has 20 members. Today, the international organization has chapters throughout the United States, Canada and Norway.

   The Warthogs raise money for the national group to support the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund. But they also support local nonprofit organizations as well, Mr. Bulterman said.

   The group has raised money for programs such as Meals on Wheels, South Jefferson Backpack Program and the Neimann-Pick Disease Foundation. This year’s annual Warthogs Motorcycle Club Charity Ride is scheduled for August 11, and the club is already getting requests from groups interested in funding.

    Their annual fund-raising motorcycle ride even draws people from outside New York State, Mr. Bulterman said. Organizers map out a different route each year because “we try to show off what Northern New York has to offer,” he said.

   The routes often include riding on Route 177 toward Lewis County to give people the opportunity to view the large wind farm along that road, he said. Trips have also been planned on roads with views of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

     The group partners with F.X. Caprara Harley-Davidson in Adams Center, which makes a donation and offers its business as a starting point for the annual fund-raising ride. Last year’s event raised nearly $5,000 and attracted more than 100 people, a combination of riders and passengers, Mr. Bulterman said.

     The dealership’s website has a calendar of on-going charity events, including the Warthogs fund-raising ride. Visit www.fxcapraraharley-davidson.com

     The Watertown Chrome Divas is a local chapter of the national organization established for female motorcycle enthusiasts. “We are a group of women who work together to enable and encourage other women to reach their full potential,” said President Donna Martel.

     That support is offered both on and off the road. “Our members come from different walks of life, and we are seeing more women interested in learning how to ride,” she said. “But we also have some members who don’t ride.”

    Those who don’t ride joined because they believe in the philosophy of the group – women supporting other women. The local chapter was formed more than 10 years ago. “We’re sisters,” Mrs. Martel said. “We are there to help each other.”

    The Watertown Chrome Divas, who currently have 10 members, organize an annual “Save the Ta Tas Ride” to raise money for breast cancer detection and prevention, and to support those undergoing treatment.

   The proceeds are raised for the Gouverneur Breast Cancer Fund, which serves women in Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Franklin counties. The nonprofit organization provides a variety of support, including helping those fighting breast cancer with rent or gas money, because “nothing stops in life when you are battling cancer,” Mrs. Martel said.

    The Watertown Chrome Divas also provide moral support as well, because “no one should fight breast cancer alone,” she said.

   This year’s “Save the Ta Tas Ride” is scheduled for August 25, and will also start at F.X. Caprara Harley-Davidson in Adams Center. Last year, nearly 500 bikers participated, and approximately $15,000 was raised. For more information, check the Watertown Chrome Divas Facebook Page.  

      Mrs. Martel and her husband, Joe Martel, are also members of the American Legion Riders Post 673 Black River, which is open to all veterans and their family members throughout Jefferson County. The motorcycle organization has 22 members and has been a regular supporter of the Watertown Urban Mission’s critical needs programs, raising an average of $10,000 each year.

      This year the legion will hold its annual fund-raising ride on June 2, with the start at Caskinette Lofink Ford, Carthage. More than 100 riders are expected, he said. For more information, check the Black River American Legion Riders Post 673 Black River Facebook Page

      Martin E. “Marty” Herman is chaplain of the Tri-County Riders for Christ, a chapter of the national Christian Motorcyclists Association, which includes members from Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

    “Bikers are suckers for a good cause,” said Mr. Herman, who serves as pastor of the motorcycle organization. There is also a CMA chapter in St. Lawrence County called the St. Lawrence Servants.

   “Sometimes people think the phrase Jesus and motorcycles is an oxymoron,” he said. But the Tri-County Riders for Christ, which received its charter in 2013, is “open to anyone who loves the Lord,” Mr. Herman said.

      The group has 25 members, and conducts a major fund-raising ride each year to support “the teachings of Jesus Christ” throughout the world, Mr. Herman added.

     The group holds an annual ride the first Saturday in May, and draws people from throughout the region, he said. The ride usually covers about 100 miles and varies each year. Last year, the Tri-County Riders raised approximately $4,500.

     The funds support a nationwide ministry effort by the CMA national organization to distribute Bibles in more than 1,500 languages to countries throughout the world, including those which ban the practice of Christianity, Mr. Herman said. The CMA has chapters in nearly 40 countries.

     The money raised is also used to provide different modes of transportation to pastors who are doing missionary work and need to reach people in distant rural areas.  In many cases, that mode of transportation is a motorcycle, but one time, “it was even a camel,” he said.

   The organization has also purchased motor boats for pastors who are doing missionary work in island regions. “Anything that will help get a pastor out to the people,” Mr. Herman said.

   For more information www.cmausa.org