Little Angels run celebrates 25 years of fundraising ride
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News May 20, 2012 6:30PM
Updated: July 1, 2012 12:08PM
WOODSTOCK — Little Angels has a very special place in A.J. Moore’s heart.
His sister, now 48, lived at the home for severely disabled children and young adults on Elgin’s far east side from the time she was 7 to age 15. In the past 22 years, Moore, a South Elgin deputy chief of police, has helped raise a several hundred dollars for the home during the annual Little Angels Pledge run.
Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the motorcycle run and fundraiser, said Little Angels Director Shelley Lewis. Originally run in the Elgin area, the bike rally moved to Woodstock nine years ago, Lewis said.
Over those years, motorcycle riders have raised $4.5 million for the care facility. Those funds have helped to build an addition to the center and to purchase equipment for their clients’ care.
With particularly perfect weather for getting out on a motorcycle, Sunday saw an estimated 1,250 motorcycles and 1,500 riders, said Beth Norman, pledge run coordinator. Of those, 450 were people who walked up and registered for the run on Sunday, she added.
Norman, a member of the Elgin Area Organization of Harley Owners, has coordinated the pledge run for the past 10 years and is one of the original club members. All motorcycles and riders are invited to the event, which also includes raffles, food, music and vendor booths.
Bikes started heading out at about 10:30 a.m., and the first riders were back in Woodstock by 12:30 p.m.
The bikers are sent out in groups of 100-200, Norman said, as to help keep traffic flowing and for everyone’s safety. One accident was reported during the ride Sunday, a rarity in the event’s history, she said.
Moore and South Elgin Chief of Police Chris Merritt were among some of the first riders to leave from and come back to Woodstock Harley Davidson. The total ride was 86 miles, running up into Wisconsin and back. They were joined by other officers and South Elgin police personnel.
But the ride is very personal for Moore, 52.
“My sister, Carrie, lived at Little Angels for awhile, so it has a special place in my heart,” he said. Caried has severe mental disabilities, and now lives in a home in Waukegan, he added. “She has to live in an institutional setting,” Moore said.
Little Angels has seen many of its residents living longer lives than ever before, Lewis said. There was a time when the life expectancy of their residents was perhaps their teens or 20s. Now, it is much more common to see them living into their late 20s and early 30s, she said.
Some of that is due to the treatment equipment the home has been able to purchase because of the pledge run. A vest therapy machine manipulates the chest and lungs of their residents, a task that used to be done by hand. Those machines cost $16,000 each, and vests, fitted for individuals, are $350 each, Lewis said.
“We have reduced hospitalizations due to pneumonia by 50 percent” because of those machines, she said.
Funds raised by the rally have also paid for mechanical lifts which help get patients in and out of their beds and wheelchairs, she said.