Motorcyclists may have a reputation for being tough, but there are many riders in this community with a soft spot for helping charities. And when it comes to helping charities, Dave Richards is known as the leader of the pack.
Through his involvement with the Blue Knights (a non-profit fraternal organization consisting of active and retired law enforcement officers who enjoy riding motorcycles) and Washington Lodge No. 164 Free & Accepted Masons, Dave has spent over a decade as the lead organizer of the Blue Ride, a popular local motorcycle event that benefits local charities. To date, the Blue Ride has raised more than $347,000.
It all began in 2003 with an idea. While Dave was serving as President of the Blue Knights, the group decided they wanted to do something big for benefit of the community. Co-hosting a motorcycle run for charity with Washington Lodge No. 164 F&AM seemed to be a logical choice.
In 2004, the inaugural event included 185 bikes, nearly doubling their expectations. By 2009, there were approximately 700 bikes registered for the event. Today, on average, the Blue Ride draws nearly 1,000 participants and riders from all across the East Coast – even Canada!
Dave said, “The ride would never come off without the sponsors who donate, the riders who come out, and the community that gets involved.”
It takes a huge network of people to ensure the event is a success – both financially and logistically. A core group of dedicated individuals begin planning months in advance. And on the day of the event, there are many who give of their time to ensure that all runs safely and smoothly, including police and fire departments who help to control traffic.
The organizers’ goal is continue to support all the charities who have received a check in the past (all are 501c3s that provide a community, child, or family-oriented program). Because there are so many different worthwhile causes involved, sponsors and riders have little difficulty finding one that is near and dear to their hearts.
Taking Blue Ride committee members to the check presentations is a top priority for Dave. For example, while delivering Washington Christian Outreach’s check, those in attendance saw hungry people who would receive a decent meal because of their hard work. “That’s what makes the whole experience worthwhile,” he recalls.
While Dave is happy to share information on how to organize a successful ride, you shouldn’t count on him to plan yours. The Blue Ride has always been his primary focus.
So the only question that remains is: “Will he do it again next year?”
“I look at it and say, that $30,000 or $40,000 dollars a year, all those charities aren’t going to get that money if we don’t hold the Blue Ride. That’s what gives you the drive to do it,” he attests.
Helping people just seems to come naturally to Dave, who is a Sergeant in the North Strabane Police Department with a 30-year career in law enforcement. In addition to his participation in the Blue Knights and Washington Lodge No. 164 F&AM, he is President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 22, and a member of Elks Lodge No. 776, Scottish Rite (Pittsburgh and Coudersport), Syria Shrine Pittsburgh, Tall Cedars Forest #149, the Pin Club Masonic Ceremonial Unit, and the Masonic Temple Association.
“When you’re busy, it’s easy to say ‘I don’t have time for that,’ but I have always made the effort to help when someone asks for help, even if it is just returning a call,” he remarked. “If you are able to help someone, you do. You make that effort.”