By Katie Moen New Jersey Herald
OGDENSBURG — Dale’s annual Chilly Chili Run to benefit Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice certainly lived up to its name on Monday.
Though temperatures barely rose into the double digits, members of the Blue Knights Chapter IX motorcycle club still turned out to brave the cold and show their support for a good cause.
“We’ve been doing this run for about 30 years, and I honestly don’t think it’s ever been this cold,” said Jeff Hunker, goodwill ambassador for the club. “When we showed up at 9 a.m. to register, it was only about 2 degrees. “The thing is, though, that the members of this club are some of the best, most generous people in the world. It takes a lot to keep us down, and even though Mother Nature threw us a curve ball this year, we still got out there and did what we could.”
Hunker said that this year’s event attracted about 180 people.
“A few years ago, we had 70 degree weather on New Year’s,” he said. “I think we had something like 900 bikes that year. The whole of Ogdesnburg had to be shut down to make room for the bikes. You can’t control the weather, though, and a lot of folks just couldn’t make it this time around.
“We actually only had about 35 bikes out on the road this year. A lot of our regular riders said they couldn’t get their bikes to start up, so we had people following behind in their cars instead.”
The 28-mile run, which begins and ends at the Ogdensburg Firehouse, has become a long-standing tradition among motorcycle enthusiasts from around the area.
“This all started when a few of our members decided it would be fun to kick the New Year off with a ride,” Hunker said. “A few years later, one of the guys, Dale Lewis’ wife fell sick. He was so impressed with the level of care that she received at Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice that he asked us if we would want to turn the run into a fundraiser.
“It’s just been getting bigger every year. Even when it’s this cold out, it doesn’t matter. The run is still a lot of fun and it goes to support a very important resource for our community, so we’re glad to do it.”
As the name of the event suggests, the run always ends with a steaming bowl of homemade chilli waiting for each rider, courtesy of the Ogdensburg Fire Department.
Hunker said that while the club was still tallying donations Monday afternoon, he estimated that this year’s event probably raised around $2,000 for the hospice center.