Women ride for breast cancer awareness

A group of women in pink shirts will be riding approximately 200 miles from north Anoka County to Mille Lacs Lake Aug. 25 for breast cancer awareness.

The Minnesota Pink Ribbon Run was started in 2010 by Rita Usher of Isanti and Jaymie Griffin of Belle Plaine because they wanted to “get a bunch of girls together and do a women’s motorcycle ride,” Usher said.

At first they figured there would only be five to 10 women who would be riding around Mille Lacs Lake just for fun. As more wanted to join them, Griffin said they decided they should raise money for a good cause.

They chose to help out a San Francisco, California-based organization, Breast Cancer Action, because it focuses on advocacy and awareness rather than pharmaceuticals, Griffin said.

Usher’s aunt Bonnie Iacono and Griffin’s sister Vicki Nelson both had breast cancer and survived. The mother of Usher’s significant other — Illa Mae Hansen — died of breast cancer.

The inaugural ride included 33 women and raised about $3,000. Usher said through word of mouth and good planning they were able to get 131 women to participate in the second ride and raised approximately $8,500.

This year’s ride is on Saturday, Aug. 25 and begins at 10 a.m. at the Standing Room Only (SRO) Bar and Grill in Oak Grove, 18919 Lake George Blvd. N.W. Usher said, depending on the number of motorcyclists, they should all be back at SRO around 5 p.m. that day.

There are two rules to be a part of this ride. Only women can ride and they must be wearing pink, Usher said.

For the first time, they are printing T-shirts with the Minnesota Pink Ribbon Run name and date of the ride. A volunteer who rode for the first time last year has printed about 100 pink T-shirts to date and could print more if it looks like more are needed. You don’t need to buy one of these $20 shirts, but you must wear a pink shirt.

Griffin knows they could really boost the number of riders and donations by inviting men, but she thinks only having women makes this a unique fundraiser. As far as she knows, they are the only all-female motorcycle ride fundraiser in the state.

Some also liven up the ride by wearing pink bras over their shirts or hanging pink bras from their motorcycles. Usher had pink undergarments on a teddy bear attached to her bike last year.

“It’s fun,” Usher said. “People think it’s cool seeing all these women going down the road on their motorcycles, wearing pink.”


Event details

To preregister for the ride, visit http://fundraising.bcaction.org/mnpinkribbonrun. Griffin encourages women to preregister so they can participate at a lower cost and so the organizers have a better idea how many riders there will be.

The cost per motorcycle is $15 if you preregister or $25 if you want to register the day of the event. To register the day of the event, arrive early. Registration and sign-in begins at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 25 at SRO.

To be part of the event, but are unable to ride, a party bus that seats 40 will follow the riders. The fee is $20 and you are only able to sign up for a seat on the day of the ride, according to Usher.

There will also be a few stops along the way for riders to top off their gas tanks, rest and have raffle drawings. They will be stopping at the Crazy Ladies House boutique store in Mora where there will be a raffle drawing. They will have lunch and more raffles at The Blue Goose Inn in Garrison on the northwest side of Mille Lacs Lake. There will be a couple extra stops for filling up the gas tanks of smaller bikes.

Raffle tickets being sold are for an afternoon fishing launch out of Algoma, Wis., in Door County and onto Lake Michigan for up to four people. Another raffle prize is a four-day weekend stay for up to four people at the Crow Wing Crest Lodge in Akeley.

There will also be raffle drawings for cash prizes of $250 and $100, according to Usher.

Griffin said these will be 50-50 raffles, meaning half of the proceeds go to the raffle winner and the other half goes to charity.

There will be a silent auction after the ride with bottles of wine and gift certificates from restaurants among the items for sale.

Griffin said she and Usher were the only people the first two years that would seek business donations, but 18 additional volunteers, who joined the ride last year, have chipped in this year by drumming up support or providing services such as T-shirt printing at a reduced rate.

Merchandise sales of pink bandanas, pink bracelets and patches for jackets are other revenue producers for this cause that are being introduced this year, she said.

Griffin thinks it is fantastic and goes to show that this is an important cause for all these women.

“It’s not just a ride,” Griffin said.