EL CENTRO – The sun served as a background with clear skies and gentle wind for the Yuma-Imperial Valley ABATE No. 38 motorcycle club as members and fellow bikers registered to participate in the groupâ€™s 17th Annual Turkey Run on Saturday. ABATE No. 38 is an acronym that stands for â€œAmerican Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education.â€
Registration began at the Wal-Mart parking lot in El Centro, and everyone was invited to join in on this yearly fundraiser that provides whole turkeys to families in need during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Last yearâ€™s event raised a total of $1,700 dollars worth of turkeys for local families, and Ed Aranda, president of the club, said he hoped to reach and exceed that amount this year, with $1,000 dollars put up by the club alone.
Participation required the donation of $10 dollars and one frozen turkey submitted the same day of the event, prior to the ride. The turkeys were then donated to five different charities. The funds raised were later given to the â€œSister Evelyn Mourey Centerâ€ following the event during a turkey dinner hosted at Saint Maryâ€™s Church in El Centro. It totaled $690 as a thank you for cooking dinner and for use of the hall.
ABATE No. 38 is a nation-wide organization with state and local chapters, and Aranda of the local club, organizes the Turkey Run each year.
Aranda described the Turkey Run as a fundraiser for groups and churches whose goal is to donate Valley wide with stops in El Centro, Imperial, Calexico and Brawley. They welcome all donations, even accepting a ham at a previous event. Extra money raised at the Turkey Run is used to help fund other events throughout the year and the ABATE state office for lobbyists to fight for the rights of motorcyclists.
The event was inclusive, welcoming all ages and all types of motorcycles, according to Aranda. They did not even require a motorcycle to participate, he said, as was evident by several families that followed the run in their vehicles.
Aranda explained the local event is family oriented, and it has gained popularity through word of mouth with him even receiving calls from Los Angeles, asking for information. â€œMost people who have a motorcycle, like to run,â€ he added.
Gary Collins, a Navy veteran and solo-rider, has been part of the run for the past 12 years. He said,Â â€œItâ€™s a good charity and Iâ€™m glad to be part of it.â€ Collins also shared his hope for a big turnout this year.
The event included motorcycles of all shapes and sizes from many different cities and organizations. Local chapters of the ABATE club from Yuma, San Diego and Los Angeles were also present, with six ABATE members from Escondido stopping by for support before making the ride back for an event later that day.
Other clubs and organizations could be spotted throughout the event as well, with solo-bikers (passionate motorcyclists that are not associated with any clubs or organizations) also showing up for the event.
Sue Mulivrana, a resident of Yuma, has been riding in the event for the past six to seven years. She said that sharing her love for the community and the sense of family that the event brings together each year is what she enjoys. Mulivrana mentioned she has made friends through the event that she continues to see yearly because of the Turkey Run.
With the Turkey Run growing in popularity each year, many called it a family tradition. However, there seem to be other locals who had never heard of the annual event before Saturday. For instance, first time participant Medardo MontaÃ±o Jr. heard about the event just the day before from a friend at the gym.
Â As a lifetime resident of the Imperial Valley, MontaÃ±o admitted he was surprised to have never heard about it until now. He said he would have participated before if he had known about the event, and most likely plans on being here next year.
The Sister Evelyn Mourey Center hosted the turkey dinner for all participants who donated turkeys at the runâ€™s final stop. The centerâ€™s board members provided the food, while the Southwest High School Culinary Art Program and other volunteers took care of cooking, cleaning and setting up. Â The money donated to the center that evening will used to help feed others Thanksgiving week, according to Karen White, director of the Sister Evelyn Mourey Center.
The first five years he organized the event, he funded it out of pocket, barely breaking even. It was not until he decided ask for sponsors that the event really took off, he said, and now it is one of the biggest motorcycle runs in the Valley.
He explained the local event is family oriented, and it has gained popularity through word of mouth with him even receiving calls from Los Angeles, asking for information. â€œMost people who have a motorcycle, like to run,â€ he added.
It requires more than three months of planning for the one-day event with gathering sponsorships getting harder and harder each year. The ABATE Clubâ€™s goal is to give to charities who then give out to others in the community.
This yearâ€™s sponsors included businesses from all over the Imperial Valley and extended to Yuma and San Diego County as well.
Logos of the sponsors who donated to the event were represented on the back of this yearâ€™s commemorative t-shirt. Sponsorship with a logo on the t-shirt required a minimum of a $100 donation, but businesses usually donate more, according to Aranda. Those not donating money usually donate merchandise to be raffled off at the turkey dinner, and others provide both.
The donations collected at this yearâ€™s fundraiser will feed around 2,500 people, Aranda said. It has become a tradition with many local charities contacting him as early as August.
Â â€œWe get to give back to the community and ride our motorcycles,â€ he said. â€œEveryone does a toy run, not much is done for Thanksgiving.â€
Aranda was born in Los Angeles, but grew up and graduated from Holtville. He worked for the city of El Centro for over 20 years and retired three years ago. Now he enjoys volunteering in the community, and said he plans on organizing, helping others and bringing people together as long as he can.