Cruising for charity Motorcyclists raising money for Children’s Hospital

Ray Wehrs has a love for his daughter and a love for motorcycles, two things that led him to join the Imagine Guild, one of the top guild fundraisers for Seattle Children’s Hospital. The guild hosts three major fundraising events each year including the largest and most anticipated event called Children’s Ride.

Ray Wehrs has a love for his daughter and a love for motorcycles, two things that led him to join the Imagine Guild, one of the top guild fundraisers for Seattle Children’s Hospital. The guild hosts three major fundraising events each year including the largest and most anticipated event called Children’s Ride.

After participating in the ride last year, Wehrs felt inspired to take a year off from work and commit himself to the Imagine Guild full time. He currently sits on the guild’s board as the co-vice president. Through June 29 the Imagine Guild is hosting Children’s Ride 13, an annual event that attracts motorcycle enthusiasts, celebrities and community members from all over the Pacific Northwest.

Wehrs, along with the 70 other members of the Imagine Guild, hope to raise $1 million for uncompensated care at Children’s.

Children’s Ride 13 holds a special meaning for Wehrs, whose nine-year-old daughter, Nicki, has been a patient of Children’s since August 2002 when she was first diagnosed with chronic Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, an incurable autoimmune disease.

Following a common summer cold, Wehrs and his wife began to notice unusual bruising on their daughter and took her to the doctor. She was diagnosed with ITP, a disease that destroys platelets and has symptoms similar to a hemophiliac, including excessive bleeding, heavy bruising, blood blisters and pinpoint spots of blood under the skin.

“My platelets got confused,” Nicki explains, who routinely visits Children’s Hematology-Oncology Department.

Every six to eight weeks she receives treatments designed to increase her platelet count. At times, the treatments can last four to six hours and require an IV procedure. The hospital’s Child Life Department provides a specialist during the treatment to reduce Nicki’s anxiety and distract her from the pain associated with the insertion of the needle.

“There was one time I was having so much fun playing with bubbles, I didn’t even feel the poke,” said a cheerful Nicki.

Living with ITP sets limitations on the types of sports and physical activities Nicki can be involved in. Despite this, she has found a love for art, ballet and swimming - three activities in which she excels.

This year, Nicki was named the patient spokesperson for Children’s Ride 13 and was commissioned to paint a custom art dresser for Children’s Ride Gala and Auction event that took place at the Bellevue Regency Hyatt Hotel. Teaming up with local teaching artist Shariana Mundi and some help from her little sister, Nicki painted the dresser using nature as her inspiration.

The dresser was one of several items up for bid at the gala dinner and auction including a Harley-Davidson custom motorcycle by Brian Klock.

Thankful to Children’s for everything they’ve done, Wehrs anticipates that Children Ride 13 will be a huge success. The fundraiser includes a number of Harley-themed events including a kick-off party at Destination Harley Davidson, a private “posse” celebrity ride to Children’s, a dinner gala and auction, and the first ever “Rock ‘N Ride for Children’s Hospital” music festival featuring a number of classic rock bands.

“We worked really hard this year to put this concert together and everyone’s really excited,” Wehrs said, adding that they hope to have a turnout of more than 10,000 people. “It’s a chance to experience a great concert and to help kids who aren’t as fortunate as Nicki.”

The Washington State Patrol will lead a pack of more than 950 pre-registered riders from Qwest Field on Sunday to the White River Amphitheatre. The concert will include two stages with live performances from Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Marshall Tucker Band, Starship starring Mickey Thomas, Spike and the Impalers and Foghat. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster and 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit Children’s.

For more information on Children’s Ride 13 visit www.childrens-ride.com. To find out more about Children’s Hospital Guild Association visit https://waystohelp.seattlechildrens.org.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at llarin@reporternewspapers.com or at 425-453-4602.