The roar of motorcycle engines revving along the Bristol shoreline late Sunday morning did not signal the start of a Hells Angels revival.
Instead, it marked the renewal of a special effort to help find cures for juvenile diabetes.
The eighth annual “Motorcycle Ride for Diabetes” began and ended Sunday at the Bristol County Elks Lodge #1860 on Constitution Street in Bristol, led by two motorcycle officers of the Bristol Police Department. An estimated 60 operators in various models and colors of motorcycles navigated the 45-mile round-trip course which extended from Bristol across the Mt. Hope Bridge into Portsmouth; across the Sakonnet River Bridge into Tiverton; and along various back roads to Sakonnet Point in Little Compton.
When the bikers returned to Bristol in the early afternoon, a free lunch of pasta, meatballs and salads along with music awaited them as they swapped stories and yarns of their favorite pastime.
“Motorcycle Ride for Diabetes” is the brainchild of David and Nicole Cairrao, whose 10 year old daughter, Brooke, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when she was 18 months old. In 2004, contemplating ways to raise awareness of the dreaded disease, the Cairraos hit upon the notion of a motorcycle ride to raise funds for diabetes research.
“When Brooke was diagnosed with diabetes, we had a lot of help and support from our friends, but they wanted to do more than simply participate in a walk-a-thon,” Nicole Cairrao said. “Dave and I happened to be sitting with a bunch of motorcyclists when we mentioned this and they’re the ones who came up with the idea of a motorcycle ride.”
So, for eight years the Cairraos have organized this annual event with the total support and cooperation of the Elks Lodge, where Dave has been a member for more than two decades. Although not bikers themselves, the Cairraos completely throw themselves in to organize the fundraiser, merging volunteer help from a health cadre of friends to execute the smallest details of the daylong event.
All drivers paid $25 donation to ride in Sunday’s function and riders tagged along for a $15 donation. The entry donations entitled all participants to an event T-shirt and free food and entertainment upon their return to Bristol.
In addition, raffles were held and a 50/50 drawing was staged, all to raise additional funds. All proceeds will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation headquartered in New York City and whose stated objective is to “search for ways to prevent, better treat and ultimately cure type 1 diabetes.
During a brief ceremony prior to the onset of Sunday’s program, Nicole Cairrao thanked the many people, businesses and organizations that contributed to its success.
“Today’s ride is the culmination of many moths of hard work and dedication from a large team of people,” she said. “As you ride today, know you are making a difference in our fight to eradicate a life-threatening disease.”
The primary commercial sponsors of Sunday’s ride were Big Jake’s Custom Apparel (which donated the T-shirts), Bristol County Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Pawtucket Firefighters Local 1261, New Bedford Bay Sox, W.E. Hill Plumbing & Heating, Alert Ambulance Service, Diabetes & Endocrinology Associates, Bristol Police IBPO Local 304 and Pawtucket Police FOP Lodge #14.
The Cairraos also thanked the Bristol County Elks Lodge,, , Bristol Harbormaster Joe Cabral, Bristol Harbormaster Association, , James Wilson, Coast Guard Aid to Navigation Team and Victoria Carroll (who sang the national anthem).
Raffle prizes were donated by Bristol , The Admiral English Pub, Chomp Blades, , , Gray’s Ice Cream, , , , Diana Pozzi Photography, Federal Hill Pizza, 15 Point Road Restaurant, Hot Leathers, , Graziano’s 501 Café, , Mello’s Shoe Store, Nacho Mamma’s, Nick’s Fish Market, Johnson’s Roadside Market,, , , , Scampi,, , , , Stone Bridge Restaurant, and .
Food products for the after-ride meal were donated by Elsie’s Bakery, , and Mello’s Foodland.
“We’ve donated approximately $50,000 during the past seven years from the motorcycle ride,” Nicole Cairrao said. “We expect to be able to donate about $4,000 more this year.”