Motorcyclists take to the streets in Ride for the Cure
By HELEN ZHAO firstname.lastname@example.org of the Journal Star
PEORIA — Diane Quitschau wore her bright pink headband emblazoned with “Survivor” with pride. A fairly recent designation, it represented her triumph over cancer.
Because of the spiritual growth the Peoria Heights resident said she underwent in battling breast cancer, the Ride for the Cure event she attended Saturday was an especially emotional experience.
“I’m going to start tearing up,” she said. “There was a lot of times on the ride just seeing people pulled over and the support of everyone. It was very overwhelming and very emotional.”
About 500 motorcyclists paraded through the streets of Peoria in an eclectic display of vehicles — a loud and flashy show of support for breast cancer awareness and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The excursion began at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie and ended at Exposition Gardens, where participants gathered for a barbecue lunch, beer, and an auction.
Many bike enthusiasts came out in support of the cause, including “Maddog” Nelson , a western Kentucky resident who said his mother, aunt, and ex-wife died of cancer. He took his first motorcycle ride when he was 9 months old and has ridden ever since.
“There’s nothing like it,” he said. “You can’t explain it. It’s just a total sense of freedom… We call them iron horses. …We’re kind of like modern cowboy I guess. In the cowboy days, they had their freedom. They’d stop and camp anywhere. That’s kind of feel when we’re out on our bike. …If you’ve got troubles man, you get on your bike and you take a ride and nothing matters.”
Although breast cancer affects women in greater numbers than men, men turned up to the event in great droves. “These guys are very sensitive,” said Joyce Harlan, who has helped run the event for the last 18 years. “Our first year, we only allowed women. …And ohhh they complained. They have a mother, they have sister, they have a wife. And we let the guys in, and the ride’s just grown from then.”
Many reveled in the camaraderie and common purpose in fighting for a greater cause. “As a family unit with all our kids, it’s brought us so much closer together,” Quitschau said of her and her husband, who also is a cancer survivor. Helen Zhao can be reached at 686-3196. Follow her on Twitter @HelenJZhao.