Every year, motorcyclists from around Indiana come together to help children who are sick or injured.
Their efforts yield money to care for kids who have been severely burned and need medical treatment, to buy incubators for the neonatal intensive care unit and to fund groundbreaking research on leukemia.
The annual Miracle Ride is a fundraiser for the Riley Children’s Foundation, bringing in almost $4 million since 1994. The foundation provides everything from video games and movies to coverage on medical bills for kids admitted to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis.
Participants see it as a way to help children in need, while also smashing stereotypes about the motorcycle community.
“We’ve been involved with the whole spectrum of motorcycling, and this is one of the best things we’ve done,” said Michael Farabaugh, a founder and volunteer organizer of the Miracle Ride.
As longtime motorcycle enthusiasts, Farabaugh and his wife, Debby, have been involved in a series of fundraising within the motorcycling community. They have served with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to raise money for various causes helping children and raised money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association with a ride with Indiana ABATE, a charitable motorcycle safety and education organization.
Their work flew in the face of stereotypes of people who ride motorcycles.
“Motorcycle people suffer through some issues with the overall view of how the general public sees them. And you deal with that your whole life,” Michael Farabaugh said. “You either get mad, or you understand that you can change things, moving in a direction that’s positive for everyone.”
Michael Farabaugh was doing work through those groups when he encountered Riley Children’s Foundation. He witnessed how the foundation supported and comforted families who came to Riley Hospital. When families couldn’t afford the care their children needed, the foundation provided financial assistance.
Working with other motorcyclists, he envisioned an event that helped children of all kinds, regardless of their illness or medical problem.
“Whether it’s a hunting accident or falling out of a tree or a major disease, kids go to Riley. It’s the only really comprehensive children’s hospital in the state,” Michael Farabaugh said.
Since that first year, the Farabaugh family has devoted thousands of hours working with other volunteers to make the event happen. The couple’s son, Ryan Farabaugh, has been helping with the effort since he was 6, when he helped stuff newsletters.
“It takes up your whole life,” Michael Farabaugh said.
This will be the 20th running of the Miracle Ride. Motorcycle riders raise thousands of dollars to take part, and corporate sponsors help ensure that all of the proceeds from the ride go to Riley Children’s Foundation.
From Friday through June 2, supporters will take part in motorcycle drag races and poker runs throughout central Indiana.
Mann’s Harley-Davidson in Edinburgh will serve as a starting point for one of the poker runs, in which participants will ride to locations across central Indiana and collect playing cards, hoping for the best poker hand.
The event culminates with the Big Ride, in which all participants take to their bikes and ride 30 miles through Indianapolis to Lucas Oil Raceway on the west side. To see up to 10,000 motorcyclists cruising through the city is breathtaking, said Holly Farabaugh, Ryan Farabaugh’s wife.
“We’re right up front, so we get to look behind us and see all of these people riding motorcycles behind us. It gives you chills. I cry every year,” she said.
Part of the event’s success has been complete transparency, Michael Farabaugh said.
They produce an eight-page newsletter after the event identifying where all of the money raised goes.
Working with accountants, they budget where every dollar raised in the event will go to. Sponsorships ensure that all the donations go to Riley Children’s Foundation in some manner, Holly Farabaugh said.
“We work nine months out of the year to get that sponsorship and maintain that sponsorship,” she said.
Working with hospital officials, the Miracle Ride organizers find out which programs are most in need of financial help. From there, they can make a decision about how to help.
“They put out 10 or 12 different things and let us choose,” Ryan Farabaugh said. “Our main emphasis is that our money doesn’t go to bricks and mortar. It’s buying things that they need.”
Some years, donations have gone to support clinical services for cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome patients. Other times, they’ve provided money to help kids who have been burned or have lung or heart diseases or simply to improve the comfort of all patients.
One year, they provided more than $60,000 to help convert an underground walkway and acquire a special cart to help transport Riley patients without using an expensive ambulance.
Proceeds from this year’s ride will go for clinical care for cancer research and to support the neonatal intensive care unit.
“The foundation is incredibly grateful for the profound support of Miracle Ride leadership, volunteers and participants,” said Jason Mueller, spokesman for Riley Children’s Foundation. “The contributions for 20 years have helped us sustain and expand care for children who need medical care at Riley Hospital for Children.”
What: An event bringing more than 6,000 motorcycle enthusiasts together to raise money for Riley Children’s Foundation
When: May 31 to June 2
Cost: $50 per person; provides access to Lucas Oil Raceway for motorcycle drag racing all weekend, admission to one of the seven poker runs held June 1, and the Big Ride on June 2.
Motorcycle drag races
When: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. May 31; 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 1; schedule to be announced June 2
Where: Lucas Oil Raceway, 10267 E. US 136, Clermont
Cost: $50 minimum pledge for adults; $25 pledge for children ages 8 to 15; free for children ages 7 and under. Provides access to all three days.
When: 9 to 11 a.m. June 1 for starting registration
Starting points: Mann’s Harley-Davidson of Edinburgh; Harley-Davidson of Bloomington; Benson MC-Harley-Davidson of Muncie; Yamaha Suzuki-Westfield; Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson & Buell; Calumet Harley-Davidson-Munster; Harley-Davidson of Kokomo.
End point: Lucas Oil Raceway on west side of Indianapolis; all participants must be at the raceway by 6 p.m.
Cost: $50 minimum pledge for one hand; $150 for two hands, $500 for three hands
When: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. June 2; live music and speakers start at 8.
Where: Meet at Allison Transmission south parking lot, 4700 W. 10th St., Indianapolis
Cost: $50 minimum pledge
Miracle ride route
The Miracle Ride, a fundraiser for the Riley Children’s Foundation, will be run from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 2 in downtown Indianapolis. Roads will be closed, and traffic delays may occur along the route.
Here is where the ride will go:
Departure: 11 a.m. from Allison Transmission, 4700 W. 10th St., Indianapolis
Parade will head:
East on Michigan Street to Holt Road
North on Holt to 10th Street
East on 10th to White River West Drive
South on White River Drive to Michigan
East on Michigan to Riley Hospital Drive
North on Riley Hospital Drive past Riley Outpatient Center
West on 10th Street to Olin Road
North on Olin to 16th Street
West on 16th Street to Gate 4 to enter the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Parade will take one lap around the track and exit through Gate 2 and go west on 16th to Polco Street
South on Polco to 10th Street
West on 10th to Vinewood Avenue
North on Vinewood to High School Road
West on High School Road to 21st Street
West on 21st to Raceway Road
North on Raceway to County Road 300N
West on County Road 300N to Gate 2 at Lucas Oil Raceway, 10267 E. U.S. 136, Clermont