November 27, 2018 | Kirsten Midura
Today is Giving Tuesday and the start of many people’s seasonal altruism. If you’re like me, around this time each year you’re mentally running through a list of 501(c)(3)s you’re already familiar with. Maybe you’ll donate some money to a friend’s fundraiser, or throw a few dollars into a Salvation Army bucket. But since we here are a captive audience of moto-enthusiasts, I’ve got a novel idea for all of us; Maybe this season, we should consider incorporating our love of motorcycles into our charitable endowments.
Ponder on this: While we in New York often ride for fun, there are people around the world who use the same machines to save lives, to cure diseases, to feed the hungry, and to provide therapy for those in need. We love our bikes because they’re fun and convenient, but there are people who love their bikes because it means all the difference in their survival. You can be a part of bettering the lives of others in a unique and gratifying way. Just consider donating your annual (or bi-annual, or regular) contributions to an organization such as the ones I’ve listed below:
For those looking to support our troops, there are a couple of organizations that use motorcycles to provide relief to veterans suffering from PTSD and other injuries. The ones I found include:
Motorcycle Relief Project (motorelief.org)
The Motorcycle Relief Project is a nonprofit that provides relief to veterans and first responders with PTSD and other injuries by taking them on structured, multi-day motorcycle adventure tours. Offering tours around California, Colorado, and other western states, the Motorcycle Relief Project has brought more than 100 veterans from six military branches on adventure tours since 2014. These relief rides provide a respite from the daily grind for participating veterans. They also allow vets to interact with others who have undergone similar experiences, and at times, they can serve as a catalyst for life change. This year, our own Triumph Brooklyn will be collecting gently-used motorcycle gear and selling it at Moto Market NYC, Dec. 9, with all proceeds going to the Motorcycle Relief Project. Needless to say, this organization is a fan-fav.
Motorcycle Missions (motorcycle-missions.org)
Another veteran-focused organization, Motorcycle Missions, focuses on the wrenching aspects of motorcycles as a treatment for PTSD. The organization recognizes that when coping with PTSD, “the need for purpose, camaraderie, and adrenaline is of the utmost importance.” Motorcycle Missions therefore directs participants toward growing “a lifelong passion for riding and building motorcycles, which will help them enjoy a happy, healthy, and balanced lifestyle after trauma.”
Motorcycle Relief Project provides relief to veterans and first responders with PTSD and other injuries by taking them on structured and professionally led multi-day motorcycle adventure tours.
-- Kirsten Midura
If you’re looking for a more global slant on your holiday giving, there are organizations around the world that use motorcycles to help those in need. Here are a few worth looking into:
Riders for Health (ridersintl.org)
Riders for Health has been around since the late 1980s, helping to deliver medication to remote communities around Sub-Saharan Africa. Operating in Gambia, Lesotho, and Liberia, ‘Riders’ trains local individuals to operate and maintain motorcycles so that they can deliver important meds to child clinics, labs, and individuals who are otherwise inaccessible. For example, in Liberia, ‘Riders’ has been transporting an average of 3,500 immunization samples/month during a time of heightened Ebola surveillance. With their help, 78 per cent of these samples arrive at laboratories within 24 hours, whereas before only 25 per cent were able to be delivered within this timeframe. Needless to say, this is an international effort worth your attention.
Rally for Rangers (rallyforrangers.org)
Rally for Rangers is a novel non-profit that delivers new motorcycles to park rangers operating in Mongolia, Argentina, and Chile. These motorcycles help the rangers to do their job, from maintaining national parklands to catching illegal poaching operations. But if the idea wasn’t cool enough, get this - you can actually ride across the country with them to deliver a motorcycle to the rangers! Naturally, you have to apply and show you have sufficient qualifications to ride. But how cool would it be to deliver your own, new, donated motorcycle across Patagonia to ensure that a ranger can properly do his job? Even if you can’t afford to dedicate that amount of money or time or effort, Rally for Rangers will still be happy to accept any donations that you can contribute. By the end of 2018, Rally for Rangers will have delivered 75 new motorcycles to nine parks in their dedicated areas, and your contributions will fund motorcycles and basic field equipment for rangers around the world.
Pigs for Peace - Congo (PigsForPeace.org)
This is a non-profit that I came across through my own personal network. Pigs for Peace and its counterpart, Rabbits for Resilience, are Congolese-led, community- based microfinance programs. They each loan animals to rural villagers who have experienced conflict and economic instability. The villagers are trained to raise and care for these animals, and once the animals have bred, the microloan is paid forward. While these organizations’ primary focus is not motorcycles, specifically, their community field technicians use motorcycles to visit villages daily, checking in on the women’s pigs, conducting workshops, and assisting community trainers. The project “aims to improve health, economic stability, and family and community relationships in rural eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.”
And finally, if you’re looking for a cause that’s more familiar or hits closer to home, you can start by checking out these two organizations:
Wheels for Wishes (wheelsforwishes.org/donate-motorcycle-charity-motorcycle-donation)
Operated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Wheels for Wishes allows you to donate your motorcycle (or car, or other vehicle) to benefit local children’s charities. Wheels for Wishes works with the Car Donation Foundation to sell or recycle your old bike. It then donates the proceeds to your local Make-A-Wish chapter, or you can also choose a different M-A-W chapter if you so desire. If you’ve got an old beater lying around, this could be a great way to clear out your garage and help others at the same time.
National Motorcycle Safety Fund (nmsfund.org)
If you have a motorcycle license, you’re likely familiar with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). Founded by the Motorcycle Industry Council, the MSF is a leading developer of motorcycle training courses, and an active participant in government relations, safety research, public awareness campaigns, and more. Well, the National Motorcycle Safety Fund (NMSF) is the charitable organization that supplements the work of the MSF, allowing for public, tax-deductible contributions to be made. So, this holiday season, if you’re looking for a way to support motorcycle research, awareness, and safety training, this is a good option for you.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive; there are many organizations out there that could use your support. And if you are not in a place to contribute financially, you can always consider volunteering and donating your time. But regardless of which organization you patronize this holiday season, remember that what’s important is that you think outside of yourself and find a way to give back.
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