Channel 3 Kids' Camp Ride exceeds expectations
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington/Stafford - posted Mon., Jul. 11, 2011
At the Channel 3 Kids' Camp Ride, which began at TSI Harley Davidson in Ellington on July 10, officials estimated the number of bikers was easily larger than last year's total of 1,200, since they had to annex additional spaces behind the buildings on the complex in order to contain the bikes as they lined up to participate.
WFSB news personalities, including Kevin Hogan, Scot Haney, Olessa Stepanova, Heather Hegedus and Hallie Jackson, were on hand to take photos with the participants, as well as hop on bikes themselves.
The ride traveled through several towns – mostly in Tolland and Hartford counties – and culminated with lunch at Sun Valley Resort in Stafford.
Norm LeBlanc, event coordinator and marketing manager for Trantolo & Trantolo, the event's presenter, said the ride, in its third year, has continued to grow.
“It looks like we're right on track,” LeBlanc said. “I'm pretty happy. It benefits inner-city and under-privileged kids all over the state.”
As a member of the board of directors for the camp as well, LeBlanc said the ride helps thousands of kids afford the camp each year by knocking the price down by about $800.
Channel 3 Kids' Camp Executive Director Denise Hornbecker said the year-round camp, in its 101st summer, depends on fundraising to bring the kids to the camp.
“This event brings in about $25,000 to $30,000 each year,” she said, adding that the support from the motorcycle enthusiasts has been phenomenal.
“I can't say enough good things about them,” she said. “TSI owner Harry Levesque has been a wonderful partner. The hog clubs come out each year and direct traffic for us. Local police departments come out from all over the state, because we have kids from all over the state.”
Hornbecker said the camp not only helps give the kids fresh opportunities to learn skills and activities, but also creates a bond with law enforcement.
“A lot of our kids, when they meet a police officer, it's not a good thing,” she said. “They get to see them in a different light, and that's an exciting thing.”
Levesque said he is pleased to host the event.
“We host a lot of charity events,” he said. “This is a really good one. We have great weather, and we've got a great turnout.”
He added that the riding community is always very responsive for the charities.
“It's always well-organized,” he said. “Trantolo & Trantolo does a great job with that.”
Ellington resident Tom Schnoor was the first to arrive – at about 8:30 a.m. for the noon ride – ensuring he would have “pole position” for the event.
“I come out for the kids – anything for the kids,” Schnoor said, adding that he often participates in charity rides.
“It's a ride to help the kids, and that's the way it should be,” he said. “The bikers are a great bunch of people. We come out for causes, enjoy the countryside. That's what it's all about.”
Schnoor's neighbor and fellow biker, Mike Healy, echoed that sentiment.
“Anything to help kids,” Healy said. “They're our future.”