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ANGELS OF MERCY

Ride For Children Of War 

Special to Sound Rider by William Perry

"I wouldn't have missed this ride for anything in the world!" exclaimed Pat Boone after riding his Harley 200 miles in unseasonable, driving rain last Aug.15 to raise funds for Kosovo war refugees. Boone, the proud owner of a '97 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Springer, grinned as he rolled, rain-soaked, into Eastside Harley-Davidson's new Issaquah shop with 70 other bikers on their inaugural Angels of Mercy Motorcycle Club ride for Mercy Corps International, a northwest based global relief agency ( www.mercycorps.org ). "I can't wait for next year -- I want Jay Leno to come up and ride with us in the beautiful Pacific Northwest," Mr. Boone told fellow riders who included Bev and Keith Thompson, co-owners of Eastside Harley and Jon Martin, ride coordinator.

Eastside Harley provided food, drinks, advertising, a show by the Cossacks motorcycle drill team, and spectacular door prizes at the grand opening celebration. The dealership plans to team up with Mercy Corps again in the future.

Angels of Mercy was founded by longtime motorcyclist and Mercy Corps president, Dan O'Neill, who is thrilled to be blending his passion for bikes with his humanitarian work which takes him to such places as Bosnia and Kosovo. O'Neill owns the first motorcycle he ever bought, a '70 Triumph Daytona 500, purchased new from Dewey's Cycle Shop. He has also owned sport bikes, standards, tourers and cruisers, including four Harleys.

"We are launching this new club to give riders, cycle shops, and sponsors a special outlet for charity events, and I can't think of a better relief organization than Mercy Corps which spends only 7% of all income on administration and fundraising," says Boone. The next ride is slated for Aug. 27, Y2K, with some special surprises in store.

Longtime Harley rider, Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, and Greg Hubert, past president of Red Robin International and current Red Robin restaurant owner, serve with O'Neill as co-chairmen of Angels of Mercy.

Mercy Corps has gained international attention for its bold relief operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, North Korea, Turkey, and other war and disaster areas, helping 2 million people annually through emergency assistance, long term development programs, and civil society initiatives (democratization, human rights work, conflict resolution). KING 5 TV news anchor and Dateline NBC correspondent, Margaret Larson, recently joined Mercy Corps' board of directors and says of her new association, "Now I can be a part of the good news instead of always having to report on the tragedies of the world." Larson, once an anchor of NBC's Today Show, wants to ride in next year's event.

For more information of Mercy Corps or Angels of Mercy, write to Dan O'Neill, 10900 NE 8th, suite 900, Bellevue, WA 98004, or email mercycorps@msn.com .

Photo credit, Gary Waltenbaugh, Mercy Corps.: left to right - Co-chairman and Red Robin sponsor Greg Hubert, Pat Boone, Eastside Harley co-owner Bev Thompson, Mercy Corps president Dan O'Neill


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