Harley-Davidson dealers raise over $650K at 36th MDA Ride for Life

Proceeds from annual event will support disease research, advocacy

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by Mary Chapman |

A hand holds up a coin alongside dollar signs and stacks of bills.

Continuing years of support for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), the Eastern Pennsylvania Harley-Davidson Dealers Association (EHDDA) just raised nearly $658,000 at the 36th Annual MDA Ride for Life.

Proceeds from the event, held in October this year, will help further the organization’s mission to empower those with muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases to live longer, more independent lives.

The annual fundraiser involved more than 175 participants, including Harley-Davidson riders from 14 dealerships along with eight MDA families. Among them was MDA Ambassador Callen, who lives with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

The ride took place in the small town of Elysburg, Pennsylvania, which features a rolling countryside and verdant hills.

“Everyone was happy to be back where it all began, at Knoebels Amusement Resort, and we are grateful to our Eastern Pennsylvania Harley-Davidson Dealers Association for their continued commitment to the Muscular Dystrophy Association,” Tracy Denton, MDA’s senior vice president, development partnerships, said in a press release.

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Proceeds help improve care, advance medical breakthroughs

MDA Ride for Life is touted as the world’s largest and most successful purpose-driven Harley-Davidson fundraiser. The monies raised will go toward advancing MDA-backed research and support the organization’s advocacy for improved access to healthcare, education, employment, and travel.

Funds also support the MDA Care Center Network, which comprises more than 150 sites nationwide, including 11 in Pennsylvania, as well as other programming.

MDA Summer Camp, for instance, permits children with neuromuscular diseases to join summer camps throughout the U.S. at no cost to their families. While there, campers participate in activities from ziplining and swimming to dancing and horseback riding, and have the opportunity to learn key life skills and make friends.

“The support from this event allows MDA to continue to lead with breakthroughs in research, care, and advocacy, including this year, the first-ever gene therapy approved by the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Since 2015, there have been more than 20 new treatments approved,” Denton said.

To be able to raise funds for [MD] care, for future breakthroughs, and the many services MDA provides is a good feeling.

The partnership between MDA and U.S. motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson spans more than four decades. To date, the Eastern & Western Pennsylvania Harley-Davidson Dealers Associations and some 50,000 participants have raised more than $25 million for MDA.

The EHDDA comprises authorized Harley-Davidson dealerships throughout the nation’s mid-Atlantic region.

One highlight of this year’s event was a “Thunder Parade,” which was led by MDA Ambassadors riding in sidecars.

“They made their way through the beautiful countryside of northeastern Pennsylvania to Knoebels, where riders enjoyed lunch, live and silent auctions, and an amusement park,” said Dot Basile, a Ride for Life committee member.

“We are proud to support the mission of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and we can see the impact and joy it brings to families living with incredible challenges with neuromuscular diseases,” Basile added. “To be able to raise funds for their care, for future breakthroughs, and the many services MDA provides is a good feeling — and to see the children and young adults enjoy a week of MDA Summer Camp at no cost to their families, that is an invaluable contribution to someone’s life.”