Fall weather stifles turnout for the CMN motorcycle ride

In the crisp morning hours, bikers around Sylva joined together to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals Saturday, Sept. 23. The ride started in the parking lot of the Sylva Walmart and went through the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Leo Craig, the organizer, has hosted the CMN bike ride for roughly 20 years. He got involved in the bike ride because he works at the Sylva Walmart. 

“It is a lot of work, but I enjoy it, I enjoy the ride, I enjoy the people,” Craig said. “We do this for the kids.” 

Craig was expecting a higher turnout. In years past, roughly 20 bikers would come out for the ride compared to the 12 participants this year. 

“I was expecting more people to come out,” Craig said. “It’s a bit chilly this morning, so I understand.” 

The charity event brought out new faces this year. Connie Lundgren and Richard Leonard are first-time attendees. 

“Leo convinced me it was going to be a fun ride and we’ve haven’t done much of the parkway,” Lundgren said.  

Lundgren values charities that aim to help children because of her own children. 

“I had a child with special needs, so I know this money is going toward children in need,” Lundgren said.  

Motorcyclists paid a $20 cover fee to participate in the bike ride and raffle prizes were offered at the beginning of the ride. The winners of the raffle were announced at different stops along the Parkway.  

Lundgren said it was so cold that the planned 15-minute stops were shortened to three minutes due to the frigid 49-degree air.  

CMN and Walmart have worked closely together since 1987 and have raised more than $1 billion over the 36 years. The Sylva Walmart raise roughly $5,500 over the course of the annual CMN campaign and bike ride.