LOVE RIDE® FOUNDATION HISTORY
Do you remember
The journey of the Love Ride® began back in 1981, as a Bikers Carnival in the backyard of Harley-Davidson® of Glendale dealership. and for everyone involved it has been a most remarkable ride indeed. No one expected that it would become the largest single day motorcycle charity event the world had ever seen. Or that it would create so many memories and touch so many lives. A biker charity event! Who would have of guessed it?
The inspiration actually came from Harley-Davidson Motor Company. They had become an official corporate sponsor of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Oliver Shokouh, the young owner of a fledgling dealership in Glendale, CA thought a charity event would be a good idea. He started out very simply with a Biker’s Carnival, held right behind what was then his small shop. It was standard carnival stuff: a dunk tank, softball toss, shooting gallery; and on its first run it raised $1500 for Muscular Dystrophy Association. But it worked. No one had been very sure bikers would attend a charity event. That was no longer in question. Oliver was determined to make it even better. The key, he thought, was to get the word out beyond the local motorcycle community. More work was put in and the second annual Biker’s Carnival was bigger and better during 1982. It raised $3,000, which was double the year before, but nowhere near what Oliver wanted it to be. In 1984 Oliver re-conceptualized his fund raiser. It would not just be an event you would ride to. It was a ride to a destination.
Then in 1984 it became a ride as part of the event. Things now became much more complex. More people had to be involved and with little money to spend it had to be a labor of love. Friends reached out to other friends and with the best spirit and intentions the LOVE RIDE® was born. Good hearted celebrities lent their support. Peter Fonda stepped up to do the first LOVE RIDE® public service announcement. Robby Krieger, famed guitarist of The Doors, put on a virtuoso performance. Even Willie G. Davidson himself came out for the ride from Milwaukee. Attendance jumped. On November 11, 1984, over 500 outstanding participants showed up. This truly began the tradition of the LOVE RIDE®. Everyone had a blast and now $42,000 was raised for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The following year we ended up with twice as many participants and we raised $91,000. Jay Leno, who back then was a burgeoning comic, with standup comic guest at the Johnny Carson show became our Grand Marshall. Jay later took over the Tonight Show and ruled the American airwaves for many years. All the while he was our Grand Marshall. He has been one of our LOVE RIDE® mainstays.
Things kept getting bigger and bigger. By our 10th year the LOVE RIDE® broke the million dollar threshold for its fundraising efforts. This was an amazing amount of money for a motorcycle charity event. Even more amazing is that it continued this way for another two decades. In total we have raised over $25m for important national and local causes. Complementing the fund raising were some terrific rides, exceptional music and, at the heart of things, great camaraderie. People from all over the US, Canada and Mexico became regulars. Even riders from Europe and Asia have attended the event. They were drawn together into a most positive biker community event. Much of our success was due to the many notable riders who helped promote the LOVE RIDE®. Peter Fonda was with us from the start, and so many others contributed -- people like Malcolm Forbes, Larry Hagman, Ann-Margret, the cast of Sons of Anarchy, among many others, and of course Willie G Davidson and his wonderful family.
Our main stage has been graced by some of the finest performers of our era: artists like Robby Krieger, David Crosby, Crosby Stills & Nash, Eric Burdon, BB King, Cheryl Crow, Jackson Browne, Little Feat, Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam, the Doobie Brothers, Blood Sweet and Tears, Sammy Hagar, ZZ Top, Foo Fighters, Canned Heat, and many others. This was an incredible line up of talent. But the core of the LOVE RIDE® has always been our participants, tens of thousands of them, many coming year after year. They were enabled by our superb band of volunteers, who worked so hard to make things happen. We've had great sponsors and terrific community support as well. And the best thing is knowing that all of them have made such a positive difference in the world we live in.