More than 100 motorcycles come out for Benefit Ride in Plymouth

PLYMOUTH, Ind. - Bikers Church of the Heartland puts on benefit rides throughout the year, often raising money for their community, but Saturday, they were raising money to take care of their own. Saturday was the 13th annual Art Hemi Memorial Ride, a benefit ride aimed at raising money for motorcyclists injured in accidents. More than 100 motorcycles rode from the Church of the Heartland in Plymouth down through Culver and back to the church for a total of about 65 miles on the ride. Money came through participation fees, a silent auction, door prizes and independent donations.

Dana Eberstein was one of the riders who said the cause hits him close to home as he was injured in a motorcycle wreck and was supported by the group with money they raised from this benefit ride.

"They came over," Eberstein said. "They prayed with me, shared the gospel a little bit and handed me a check. This is the best group to be involved in to let everybody know because that check helped me get back and forth to work and pay bills."

The ride first began 13 years ago, founded by Art Heminger, or Hemi as his friends and family called him. He was passionate about helping riders recover from injuries. His benefit ride was his way of doing exactly that. Six years ago, the ride was renamed in honor of its founder who was himself killed in a motorcycle crash.

"There (have) been a lot of accidents this year," said Al Ganser, the pastor of Bikers Church of the Heartland in Mishawaka. "The last two months, there (have) been a lot of motorcycle accidents with death and injuries. You've got to watch for bikers out there. If you can remember, now, someone you know rides. So, just be aware for that reason."

Organizers said they want to raise whatever money they can so that they can help injured motorcyclists as soon as they can however they can.

"The first few weeks after their accident, we can come right in and help them," Ganser said. "Those first few weeks, $500 is like $5,000 because it helps give you all the money for the things you need to do. That's what we've been doing ever since."

Organizers also said holding this ride in the middle of the pandemic should be uplifting to the community.

"One of the things, statistically, we're seeing and as a pastor, I'm seeing is discouragement, depression," said Church of the Heartland Senior Pastor Heath Hiatt. "It's worse than almost ever. The mental health aspects of this virus have been real. So, anytime you can do something that is safe, fun and lets people get around people but still in a safe way, I think that is really important in this environment that we are in right now."

There is also a Facebook Donations page set up that organizers say will remain open for donations through the end of the month.

Another way they raised money today was through something called a 50/50 draw where people donate money and then organizers draw a winner who gets half of the money raised. The winner this year donated her winnings, more than $250, back to the cause.

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