LEICESTER, Mass. — The fourth annual Ride For Barton is set for Sunday, Sept. 16, bringing together motorcyclists in support of the "campership fund" at the Barton Center for Diabetes Education.
The ride will start at 10 a.m. At the Central Mass Safety Council in Wachusett Plaza, 186 W. Boylston St., West Boylston, with registration beginning at 8:45 a.m. The 60-mile police-escorted ride will wind through Central Massachusetts and end at Camp Joslin, 150 Richardson Corner Road in Charlton.
The ride was started in 2009 by Leicester resident Joe Hamm, whose son Jay was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 11. After discovering the Barton Center and Camp Joslin, the Hamms saw the positive role these organizations played in Jay's life.
"It helped him know that he's not in it by himself," said Joe Hamm. "Dealing with daibetes is 24/7, but he was able to learn from other kids and from the senior counselors and staff. It was a great learning experience."
While living with diabetes was a difficult adjustment, especially as Jay is very active, Joe said today his son is able to self-manage his diabetes because of what he learned at the center.
Seeing the impact made on their family, Joe and Jay have made it their goal to raise awareness about diabetes in the community and support the Barton Center, and organizing the ride has been one way they've helped provide more kids with the experience.
"All of our proceeds go toward helping send kids to camp who can't afford to go," said Joe.
The community has also stepped up to support the ride, with this year's Gold Sponsors being Barnstorm Cycles, CMSC Auto/Motorcycle School, Steel Horse Sisters, McKenna Insurance, the Leicester Police Association and AgaMatrix. Through business and corporate sponsors alone, the ride has already raised $5,400 before kickstands go up.
Joe Hamm looks forward to the day of the ride, and "getting on the bike and feeling the wind," he said. "Then you come back and you're eating burgers, listening to music, and enjoying the company of all the people that come out and support the cause."
The Walter Walls Memorial Car Meet is being added this year, with car enthusiasts having a choice of joining the ride at noon or gathering at Camp Joslin at 1 p.m.
For a $25 donation, participants will receive an event T-shirt (first 100), enjoy a cook-out with plenty of food and music and a chance of winning a door prize.