ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — The unofficial start to the summer motorcycle riding season got a blessing on Sunday afternoon as the Concerned Motorcycle Riders of Ohio held a run to raise funds for Special Olympics.

“You could probably get a ride on Saturday and Sunday all summer,” said Randy Tackett, director of the run for CMRO.

More than 20 bikers waved to Special Olympics who had gathered to thank the riders and judge the motorcycles after the event.

Tackett said riders from other motorcycle benefits attended the event. He said CMRO has multiple rides throughout the year and a large raffle that raises more than $10,000 for a variety of charities.

Tackett said the club donated $500 to 13 different charities as well as specific run for causes such as the Special Olympics.

“This is one of our favorites,” he said.

Father Peter Nielsen, of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, blessed the bikes prior to the event.

More than 25 Special Olympians lined the road at Lake Shore Park as the motorcycles roared out of the park on their way to Andover Township. “We bring gifts for all the Olympians,” Tackett said.

Tackett said most of the rides are at least 100 miles but Sunday’s run was 80 miles so the bikers would have time to interact with the Special Olympians.

Ken Hurst, organizer of Patsy’s Run, attended the event to support CMRO. Patsy’s run is held in honor of Patsy Hurst who lost her battle with cancer in 2011. 

Hurst said Patsy’s Run has had as many as 250 riders with all proceeds donated for cancer research.

He said his wife Carolyn Hurst joins him on about a dozen “runs” a year. “We just love to ride. We ride all over the country,” she said.

Nielsen sprinkled water in the direction of the bikes and prayed for the riders.

“Dear God we ask you bless all these people as they ride for others. Keep them from the dangers of accidents,” he said.

David Cross instructed the bikers and explained safety procedures before leading the group on their journey.

The funds raised for Special Olympics are critical for the program, said coordinator Chris DeCaro. “It’s going to help us a lot,” she said.

The funds are used to help defray transportation costs to competitions and to buy uniforms, she said.