The ninth annual Ricky Craven Charity Snowmobile Ride raised $135,000 Saturday, January 28 despite some challenging weather conditions. The trek, primed and prepared by the Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Club, took over 180 riders on a 35-mile trek through the Moosehead Lake area of Maine.
Going into the weekend, ride organizers worried that the lack of snow would take focus away from the real spirit of the event, raising money and generating exposure for the charity organizations. "I must say that we were all a little worried before the weekend, because the northeast has not had the normal snowfall and cold weather for this time of year, which we thought may hinder our efforts," Craven stated. "Although once again, the local community in Greenville and the entire state of Maine were able to rally behind the event and fill the Greenville High School auditorium with participants."
Despite some initial concerns, the charity committee, chaired by Ricky's mother, Nancy Craven, still pulled off an event involving 385 registrants, 180 snowmobile riders, over 400 people in attendance and $135,000 given to charities. Individual checks of $25,500 were presented to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Give Kids the World, the Children's Miracle Network, the Travis Roy Foundation and the Marrow Foundation. In addition, $5,000 was presented to Greenville High School, and $2,500 was given to the Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Club.
In the culmination of the day's events, participants were privileged to hear stories from representatives of the charities. "This was the most amazing part of the ride, hearing stories of how the money we raised was utilized by the charities over the past year," Craven said.
One charity, the Children's Miracle Network of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, brought nine-year-old Fletcher Simpson and his mom, Elena, to Moosehead Lake to help accept the check on behalf of the organization. Fletcher and his family testified to the incredible encouragement they received through organizations such as Children's Miracle Network during the trying times of Fletcher's battle with Medulloblastoma - a brain tumor cancer. CMN of EMHS raises funds for the purchase of pediatric medical equipment and therapy supplies for seven hospitals, including C. A. Dean Memorial Hospital in Greenville.
Similarly, Tom Peaco, Executive Director of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine, relayed the story of 13-year-old Beth from Old Town, Maine, whose wish was granted in honor of Craven and all the participants in the charity ride because of last year's financial support. Beth's wish to visit St. Vincent Island, site of the filming of her favorite movie "Pirates of the Caribbean", was granted in September 2005. Beth lives with a form of childhood leukemia. Other Maine children whose wishes were granted in honor of the Craven ride include a computer granted to 18-year-old Rhys of Fairfield, Maine, and a hot tub granted to 6-year-old Alexis of Buckfield, Maine. Wishes were also granted to three Make-A-Wish children in New Hampshire using funds from last year's ride. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.
"The countless number of children who courageously battle through illness are the real heroes and the reason behind what we have tried to accomplish," added Craven.
Craven expressed gratitude to the many people and organizations that made the unique event a success. "Over the nine-year history of this event, I have had the privilege of working with so many supportive companies and individuals. Without their help, we couldn't even consider doing an event of this caliber. It's so hard to give thanks to so many wonderful people, but we want everyone who helped to know we appreciate you," Craven stated.
For more information on Ricky Craven, the Charity ride and the event sponsors, visit www.rickycraven.com