Motorcycle club rides to benefit juvenile diabetes research

By Gus Bode

Student organization sponsors first ride of this season

Rich Dawe lifted his helmet to issue rules to a group of people who wanted nothing more than to break them.

“We’re not going too fast,” he said. “Don’t ride beyond your comfort level.”


Redlining, or taking high-powered sport bikes to the maximum revolutions per minute, took a backseat to safety Sunday when Safety Officer Dawe addressed the rest of the motorcycle club, the newly founded Redliners SIU.

Sunday afternoon marked the first of a series of motorcycle ride benefits for juvenile diabetes research. Before their 80-mile trip to Garden of the Gods and back, the group members collected $500 from friends and family to donate to the Illinois chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

JDRF is a national foundation that gives $10 million a year to finding a cure for diabetes. Independent organizations, such as Redliners SIU, frequently sponsor auxiliary events such as walks, bike rides and golf outings and send profits to the foundation.

With high-powered sport bikes in tow, club members met at Dairy Queen in Carbondale to count donation money before riding.

“I felt the motorcycle community had a bad reputation, and by starting a fundraiser and a scholarship, we could help change that image,” Redliners SIU president Brad Gerace said.

The scholarship, which is independent from Sunday’s fundraiser, for $500 will be issued to one of the Redliners next semester.

Gerace, who has a family history of diabetes and lost a grandfather to the disease, said he, along with Vice President of Finance Tony Savaino, believed the cause to be particularly important because scientists are growing close to finding a cure.


“I lost an uncle to it,” Savaino said. “We want to contribute to something where there is a lot of progress being made, something that could come about in our lifetimes.”

David Patlan, vice president of public relations, said since the club was founded this semester just as the riding season ends, the spring semester would have more events.

“Next semester, I’m predicting it will be a lot bigger with more members,” he said.

Along with the 25 group members were the self-proclaimed “first ladies” of the motorcycle club.

Marta Wrobel, a senior in education from Aurora, rode along with her boyfriend, Patlan. She said riding in a group is safer than one motorcycle alone because a group is more visible to car traffic.

“The bikes are loud so it’s easier to let people know you’re coming,” Wrobel said.

The group requested a police escort but was denied. Instead, a friend rode behind the motorcycles in a car to protect the riders from other traffic.

Patlan said safety was important to the organization, and riders were required to wear full protection, including helmets and gloves.

“We stress safety on these rides,” he said. “For those passengers that don’t have helmets, we usually have extras.”

Wrobel said sometimes the high-powered motorcycles and vibration from the road causes discomfort to passengers.

“I’m a little nervous,” she said before the ride. “It’s uncomfortable for us to ride for a long period of time.”

Executive Board member Will Godfrey, who designed the organization’s logo and is part of the sub-organization that helps organize events, said the group is pursuing a trip to Daytona to watch races and ride.

“We’re trying to get this club some track time,” he said.

After returning from Garden of the Gods, where the group stopped to take pictures, rider Ashley Kalinich reflected on the afternoon.

“I just think it was fun to go out and ride, but ride for more than just fun. Ride for something important,” Kalinich said.

Aside from the motorcycle ride, Redliners SIU is planning a martini party in conjunction with the American Marketing Association at Carboz nightclub on Nov. 12 in order to raise money for the club.

Patlan said Redliners SIU is also planning to raffle off what he calls a “pocket rocket,” or mini-motorcycle, as part of a continuing effort to support diabetes research, and he called Sunday’s motorcycle ride “a success.”

“For our first organized event, that’s not bad,” he said.