MDA Freedom Ride celebrates 25 years - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

MDA Freedom Ride celebrates 25 years


SAUK CITY (WKOW) -- The streets of Sauk City were filled with rumble of Harley Davidson motorcycles at the Harley-Davidson MDA Freedom Ride on Saturday.

"It's really cool, you can hear the motors and it's really cool to see how many there are," said 11-year-old Annie Heathcote, who has muscular dystrophy and serves as the State Goodwill Ambassador for MDA. She looks forward to this event every year.

"It's really nice to see how much they care," said Heathcote.

For a $25 donation, each biker gets to ride with the pack and make a difference in the fight against muscular dystrophy.

"It's very hot out on the blacktop; they're standing there and drinking water and everybody's excited about going on the ride. It's just amazing to me how this grows bigger and bigger every year," said Crystal Mundt, general manager of Sauk Prairie Harley Davidson.

This is the 25th annual MDA Freedom Ride and organizers estimate more than 2,000 riders participated in Saturday. Altogether, they'll raise more than $100,000.

It's a 30-mile processional from Sauk City to Reedsburg and bikers rode for a reason. Tony Vultaggio loves biking anyway, but biking for his friend's son, Kyle Knopes, gives this ride a special meaning.

"We ride to help them out... try to make a better life for Kyle and everybody else," said Vultaggio.

"It's awesome to see everybody in the community come out and support MDA because I get to see firsthand what it does, whether it's the MDA camp or helping people that can't afford wheelchairs get the means that they need to get around," said Knopes.

"It's amazing what these dollars have done for these kids. It's absolutely amazing. It sends our children here to camp, it gets leg braces for our kids here. It doesn't go into a national fund; it stays right here in Wisconsin to help our kids," said Mundt.

"Camp is really nice because then I don't feel so different," said Heathcote.

"It's a camp where I can go and be the same as everybody else around me and nobody stands out," said Knopes.

That's why the sound of motorcycles couldn't be sweeter.

"It gives me chills, honestly, because I know what they're riding for and I know they know, too. And it's great that they can incorporate something that they love in motorcycles and do it for a cause that benefits a lot of people," said Knopes.

The Freedom Ride is the longest single-dealer Harley Davidson fundraiser to benefit MDA, with bikers coming from all over Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and even California every year to participate.

The Freedom Ride accounts for more than a third of the money MDA raises every year. In total, the event has raised $1.7 million.

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