AL HAMNIK: Kittle's bike ride hopes to strengthen Indiana Charities

2013-07-09T17:45:00Z 2013-09-16T18:43:14Z AL HAMNIK: Kittle's bike ride hopes to strengthen Indiana CharitiesAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 09, 2013 5:45 pm  • 

Forget Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.

Easy Rider lives on, and he once wore a White Sox uniform. Small world, eh?

The affable Ron Kittle, a Gary Wirt grad and 1983 American League Rookie of the Year, has taken to the street – literally – in a unique marketing endeavor.

His long-running celebrity golf classics at Briar Ridge Country Club helped Kittle's Indiana Sports Charities raise more than $2 million in the fight against cancer.

The competition with other celebrity golf events in the Chicagoland area proved too much, however, and Kittle was forced to pull the plug on his event this year, though it may return in the future.

A struggle was inevitable. While the others paid their celebs big bucks, Kittle's aging gang showed up basically for free but the lineup seldom changed.

So he's taking a different approach now.

Pack up the putter, put on your leather and don't forget a helmet. Ron Kittle's Retro Jersey Motorcycle Ride is coming Aug. 17, rain or shine.

"Paying $425 (to play) is pretty strong in this economy," he admitted. "This (ride) is less of a cost and a new avenue to take. There's a lot of motorcycle riders out there.

"This is an opportunity to keep Indiana Charities strong."

The 100-mile trek begins and ends at Illinois Harley Davidson, 9950 Joliet Road in Countryside, Ill.

Registration is 9 a.m., first bike out at 11 and last bike in at 4 p.m. Signup fee before Aug. 10 is $50 per person, $55 on site.

"We've already got about 30 people as VIPs who are gonna drive their cars in a caravan," said Kittle, who'll lead the way on his Harley Davidson 'Fat Boy.'

Participants receive a continental breakfast, souvenir T-shirt, sponsor giveaways, after ride party access, food and drink ticket, autograph and picture session, course map, and free raffle entry for a one week vacation.

VIPs get an '83 replica Kittle jersey and will ride in his group. All proceeds benefit Indiana Sports Charities.

"Anybody who rides is welcome," Kittle said. "We're not looking for your rebel riders. It's not a race."

Among Chicago's most popular ex-jocks, Kittle still works White Sox home games as an ambassador of sorts and continues making more public appearances than most politicians at election time.

He was in Edmonton, Canada this week, where he once played minor league ball. This time he was golfing, but it was certainly no vacation.

Kittle appeared at an Alzheimer's Foundation outing to raise money in the fight against this hideous disease.

Many of the golfers he interacted with were in various stages of Alzheimer's, some severe.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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