Gabel Ride Benefits Relay for Life

The Thundering Saints have donated $1,000 to the Barnes County Relay for Life, generated from proceeds of the fourth annual Debbie Gabel Memorial Ride held in Valley City on July 28.

Rocky Gabel, the founder and organizer of the ride, Friday presented the check to Tami Kratz, co-captain of the Lafarge Relay for Life Team Friday. Also on hand for the donation was Mary Dahl, community representative for the American Cancer Society, which organizes relays.

Kratz said her team “does a fundraising breakfast the morning of the bike run, and in return for it, we get this wonderful donation.”

Gabel said proceeds from this year’s run were slightly down from past rides, but he plans to make changes for the next run which should increase the amount of money raised.

For example, he said, plans are to not offer a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle as a top prize for the next raffle, but a less expensive but still desirable prize.

“People still want a prize to participate,” Gabel said. “Everyone knows somebody with the darn disease (cancer). There are a lot of people who pull through it – there are a lot of people who just want to help.”

Gabel said one reason the Thundering Saints club likes working with Relay for Life is “to have a local cancer chapter. I just think it’s nice to get everybody involved.”

Dahl said the donation will all be used to benefit Barnes County residents.

Gabel, who started the ride in honor of his wife who died of cancer, said the event has grown since it began in 2009.

Debbie died from ovarian cancer in 2009. Debbie was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. She went through seven surgeries and three rounds of chemo-therapy before she died from the disease.

“We started with 55 bikes the first year, and had 200 this year,” Rocky said.

The event also included an appearance from the Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders, the breakfast served by Relay for Life, a raffle, a silent auction and supper at the VFW, and street dance. The raffle’s grand prize, a 2012 Harley Davidson Heritage Classic, was won by a woman who has a son with cancer.

For future rides, Rocky said the raffle grand prize might be changed to something else. “I plan to change things up a bit,” he said.

The ride always takes place the fourth Saturday in July, and Gabel expects to continue that date in the future.

“That way we keep it consistent with other rides,” he said.

Although the amount raised and donated this year was good, Rocky said, “I’m never happy with the numbers. My goal is to keep my wife’s name out there and help fight cancer. Whether $8,000 or $15,000 is raised, it helps. There are only like 12 weekends during the summer, so it can be hard to schedule (motorcycle) rides when nothing else is going on.”

Rocky said the event also helps participants feel good about themselves, by participating in a cause that helps other people.

Rocky said, “The proceeds of the event stay local, and the community has really rallied to make it a success.”

Next year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, July 27, 2013.

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