Love Ride - The Big Brother in America
17. September 2017
The journey of the Love Ride began back in 1981, and for everyone involved it has been a most remarkable ride indeed. No one expected that it would become the largest single day motorcycle charity event the world had ever seen. Or that it would create so many memories and touch so many lives. A biker charity event! Who would have of guessed it? The Love Ride, founded by Harley-Davidson of Glendale dealer, Oliver Shokouh, has since raised over $25 million for organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), United Service Organization (USO), Autism Speaks, as well as the Glendale Community College or the Wounded Warrior Project.
The inspiration actually came from Harley-Davidson Motor Company as they had become an official corporate sponsor of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Oliver Shokouh, the young owner of a fledgling dealership in Glendale, CA thought a charity event would be a good idea and he started out very simply with a Biker’s Carnival, held right behind what was then his small shop and he raised first $1500 for MDA. It worked. No one had been very sure bikers would attend a charity event. Now, that was no longer in question. The year after he raised $3000 - but nowhere near what Oliver wanted it to be. In 1984 he re-conceptualized his event. It would not just be an event you would ride to. The ride itself would be part of the event. Things became much more complex. More people had to be involved and with little money to spend it had to be a labor of love.
Friends reached out to other friends and with the best spirit and intentions the Love Ride was born. Good hearted celebrities lent their support. Peter Fonda stepped up to do the first Love Ride public service announcement. Robby Krieger, famed guitarist of The Doors, put on a virtuoso performance. Even Willie G. Davidson himself came out for the ride. Attendance jumped. On November 11, 1984, over 500 outstanding participants showed up at the Love Ride 1. Then, Jay Leno, who back then was a burgeoning comic, became the Grand Marshall. Jay later took over the Tonight Show and ruled the American airwaves. He has been one of the Love Ride mainstays. Things kept getting bigger and bigger. By its 10th year the Love Ride broke the million dollar threshold. This was an amazing amount of money for a motorcycle charity event. Even more amazing is that it continued this way for another two decades. In total the Love Ride have raised over over $25 million for important national and local causes. The Love Ride festival has became the largest and longest-running one day motorcycle charitable fundraising event in the world.
While the Love Ride 32 was the last Love Ride as we have known it for all these years, the Love Ride Foundation itself continues to forward charitable causes for underprivileged children and US veterans. So let’s stay tuned for further announcements.