The wind rushing on their faces, feeling that sense of freedom they revere, about 90 Harley-Davidson riders rumbled into Apache Junction on Sunday with enough food to feed 40,000 hungry people.
Hailing from Peoria to the East Valley, men and women clad in leather and blue jeans proudly delivered 14,800 food items and $2,700 in cash to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance at the Superstition Harley-Davidson dealership in Apache Junction.
Like the sound of the iconic motorcycles – “potato, potato, potato, potato,” as one aficionado described the engine noise – the meat, soup and other food products were the fruits of a three-month HOG Food Drive for St. Mary’s.
Five chapters of the Harley Motorcycle Owners Group competed to raise the most money and food for the charity. Superstition Harley-Davidson was the winner, collecting more than 8,200 food items.
Greg Lyon, senior partner of Phillips and Lyon, is an avid motorcycle rider and proud member of the HOG chapter in Scottsdale. His chapter came in 2nd behind Supersition Harley-Davidson in this food drive.
Supersition’s Harley members had the privilege of leading the pack from Peoria to Apache Junction, stopping along the way to fill the trailer in their caravan with the food that goes directly into emergency food boxes at St. Mary’s.
Food bank spokesman Jerry Brown brimmed with appreciation.
“St. Mary’s couldn’t be prouder to be mentioned in the same breath as Harley riders,” he said at a luncheon held in Apache Junction.
The donation comes at an opportune time, as St. Mary’s, which delivers 72 million pounds of food to the hungry a year, suffered a $200,000 loss in roof damage and food, the equivalent of 1.4 million meals, after hail destroyed 34 skylights in the main warehouse.
The good news, Brown said, is that donors already have given $150,000 toward the repairs.
They enjoyed gathering on a beautiful day for a worthy cause.
Harley riders will deliver turkeys in time for Thanksgiving and are planning a Christmas toy drive Dec. 4.
Mark Bryant, director of HOG 93 in Phoenix, said the ultimate goal is that everyone should have enough to eat.
“We’re fortunate enough to be able to ride,” Bryant said. “We work. We have bikes. There a lot of people who aren’t that fortunate.”
Thirteen Waffle Houses donated to the cause, as did Highland High School of Gilbert, donating cans of food for photos of students atop the Harleys.
“Food is the one wiggle area,” Brown said. “If they can put the $300 they might spend on food toward their mortgage or their car, no one will come after their house or car.”