By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item
SHAMOKIN — Mud-splattered all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes trekked through coal country to help raise money for sick children.
About 250 motorists gathered at the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area, along Route 125 in Coal Township, to journey over the 22-mile course set up for Sunday’s benefit ride. The riders paid $15 apiece or $25 to register a rider and passenger, with proceeds benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger Health System.
For the network, this was the “first time they ever did an ATV ride as a benefit,” said Kathy Jeremiah, project coordinator for the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area.
A partnership already existed between the two groups, with Geisinger sponsoring ATV youth safety training at the adventure area and the Children’s Miracle Network providing a grant for the area to supply safety helmets and goggles.
Due to that relationship, “We decided to have this benefit ride to give back to the Children’s Miracle Network,” Jeremiah said.
Also supporting the network was money raised from selling $15 T-shirts and raffle tickets, sold in different sized packets for $5 or $10.
“I’m absolutely, positively thrilled with how this event turned out,” said Cally Kalie, assistant coordinator for the Children’s Miracle Network.
Kalie said she would not be able to provide an estimate for the amount raised until today. However, she said she felt good about the day’s turnout. “For a first-time event, I think it’s fantastic,” she said.
The network raised $2.3 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30, including donations from its summer telethon.
To pull off an event like this “takes a lot of good volunteers,” Kalie said. She thanked the adventure area and the Anthracite Trail Riders group for their help. In addition, without support from Northumberland County, “This wouldn’t happen.”
It was “a beautiful day for a ride,” said Frank Sabol, of Danville, who rode his motorcycle around the course. “I liked it. It was a little rocky and a little wet, but the course was marked out well.”
Fellow rider Gregory Bloom, of Sunbury, agreed. The course had “a little bit of everything,” he said. “They did a fantastic job ... We’ll be here next year.”
Jeremiah hopes to turn the adventure area into a recreational park where people can come during specific hours to ride off-road vehicles. The adventure area normally has to get permission from Northumberland County to host events, such as the network’s ride.