By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
FULTON, Ill. —
More than 600 motorcycles formed a stampede of pink as they cruised through downtown on Saturday to help women fighting breast cancer.
Bikers stopped near the de Immigrant Windmill to check out the historic site and get glitter tattoos of the breast cancer ribbon as part of the Proud to Wear Pink Motorcycle Ride.
“This ride is a lot of fun and it's great to know you're helping a good cause,” said biker Brian Smith, who participated in the ride for the second time this year.
Area non-profit organization Team Underwires held its fifth annual Proud to Wear Pink Motorcycle Ride with stops in Milledgeville, Fulton, Morrison and Prophetstown. From pink wigs to neon pink pants and pink bras strapped to the front of motorcycles, all the participants were proud to wear pink.
Dwayne and Sam Blaufuss from Sterling, Ill., were possibly the most decked out of all. Dwayne showed off a bright pink beard, while Sam donned a neon pink wig and fishnets. The couple from Sterling have participated in the ride all five years.
“We've had friends that were affected by cancer,” Dwayne said. “It's a great ride and a way to show support to those in need.”
For Douglas Heier the event has a special meaning.
“My wife passed away from cancer a year ago,” Heier said. “Today would have been our 28th anniversary. So this ride means a lot to me.”
The stop in Fulton was decorated with pink and inspirational banners as it was the survivors’ stop. Women who have either survived breast cancer or are currently fighting against cancer manned the stop by applying glitter tattoos, stamping the hands of participants and providing directions.
Volunteer Jessica Strader of Sterling has been fighting cancer for 2 1⁄2 years. She found out she had breast cancer when she was only 26 years old and pregnant with her daughter. Strader has helped out at the event for several years and hopes to start a sand volleyball tournament to raise more money for the cause someday.
For some of the women like Strader it has been a long journey, but for others it is a very new struggle. Christy Eastman, who was just diagnosed in June, happily put glitter tattoos on bikers.
“We've had a great turnout,” Eastman said. “The weather couldn't have been better.”
The non-profit that covers Whiteside, Lee, Ogle, Carroll and Bureau counties raises funds to help women who don't have insurance or the funds to seek exams or treatment for breast cancer.
In 2008, co-founders Sandi Ivey and Tammy Campos started the organization with the help of many volunteers.
The first motorcycle ride raised $66,000. Each ride raises between $60,000 and $70,000.
“We know what we're doing and it works,” Ivey, who is also a cancer survivor, said. “It's such a great cause and well worth it.”