Last Saturday, as motorcycle season had started to come to a close, a group by the name of One Broken Biker brought Edmonton riders out for their annual charity poker run. One Broken Biker, also known as OBB, is based in Calgary with a reach that includes Edmonton. OBB is a non-profit organization that was put together to support the victims and families of motorcycle accidents.
I attended their motorcycle ride, not as a rider, but as an onlooker and someone who supports what they do. It was the second ride that they hosted in Edmonton; they have been hosting rides in Calgary for several years. Last year I attended with the assistance of my family who took me, in my wheelchair, to join the riders after their run. Both times I was made to feel quite welcome by the organizers and by the other riders.
This year’s ride started with a pancake breakfast hosted by Heritage Harley Davidson, and ended with a barbecue at Blackjack’s Road House. Both companies are huge supporters of the motorcycle community. The route included a number of stops over the course of several hours. It was a crisp but sunny day, a beautiful fall day, a great day for a ride.
A trait that is common to passionate motorcycle riders is that they take pause when they hear the sound of a bike nearby. The yearning to be out on the road does not go away. It hasn’t for me. So even though I could not ride in the OBB run, I was happy that my sister was able to get to the road with her bike. I was happy that she was able to give back to a charity that has given generously to so many.
OBB started in 2012 when a woman by the name of Ashlee Atkin, who was riding with her father Glenn Lyth, witnessed his near fatal crash. The outcome was horrible for Glenn, resulting in three months of hospitalization followed by rehab during a long recovery. Ashlee discovered there were many unexpected expenses for those closest to Glenn. Not only can a family tragedy such as this mean lost income, smaller expenses such as gas, parking and meals can add up over the weeks and months.
Recognizing the need, Ashlee along with close friend Elizabeth Cloutier, organized their first charity poker run. They received overwhelming support. With its success, they resolved to expand the program so that the funds raised would be directed to other families as well. They organized and became a non-profit organization.
In this past year OBB supported over 86 downed riders. 35 or those riders were from Edmonton. That’s a huge number. It’s a number that needs to be reduced. Programs such as the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society work hard to do exactly that, and they are making a difference. However, until some important changes are made, it’s recognized that devastation is still felt by many victims and their families. How wonderful that one family has turned their personal hardship into something that will leave others feeling less alone. That families dealing with tragedy will feel like they are indeed part of a community. They will experience first hand how charity is a life changer.