Participants in the 2009 Niles Burn Run line up to start the ride at the Apple Festival Fairgrounds in Niles. This year organizers expect any even larger crowd. (File photo)
Participants in the 2009 Niles Burn Run line up to start the ride at the Apple Festival Fairgrounds in Niles. This year organizers expect any even larger crowd. (File photo)

Archived Story

Organizers expect up to 4,000 for Niles Burn Run

Published 9:02pm Friday, May 21, 2010

Niles Daily Star

The heat is on for what is expected to be one of the biggest rides in the Niles Burn Run history.

The benefit ride, scheduled for July 17 and 18, draws in motorcyclists to the Niles area for a 50-mile run to raise money for the Great Lakes Burn Camp which, since 1995, has been providing a special retreat for children who Burn Run president Doug Myers said, “have been traumatized by fire physically or emotionally.”

“When we originally started the Burn Run,” Myers said, “we had a lot of different goals for it and one of those goals was to bring something to Niles that was unique but still brought in the tourism factor. The sole purpose of it is to raise money for the Great Lakes Burn Camp.”

This year the organization is achieving both by expanding the run to a two-day event and getting a change of scenery, moving the event’s location from the Four Flags Apple Festival fairgrounds to downtown Niles.

“By going downtown we’re going to get people in the stores,” Myers said, benefitting the city, local merchants and making it “more fun for riders.”

Making an estimate of people – and not necessarily riders – expected to take part in the two-day event, which will include plenty of vendors, live music and food, Myers said, “because of the amount of bikes we’re expecting, we’re expecting 2,000-4,000 people this year.”

That is an impressive number, considering in its first year, 40 bikes made the run.

“It grows every year,” Myers said. Last year around 800 people descended upon the fairgrounds and more than 400 bikes took to the 50-mile run that travels through Niles, Eau Claire, Berrien Springs and Buchanan.

“It’s started to become its own entity,” Myers said.

Burn Run organizers are still looking for sponsors and are inching closer to last call.
“Our sponsorship cutoff is June 1. We’re always looking for sponsorship monies because it costs thousands of dollars to do something like this,” Myers said.

Great Lakes Burn Camp doesn’t charge families for kids who want to attend.

“They don’t want to put another burden on families,” Myers said. “It’s really important for these kids to go to camp because it’s a break from surgeries, therapies,” and other struggles they endure due to their trauma.

“One of the many reasons why we like it so much is a lot of the kids, when they get too old to be at camp, they come back and are counselors,” Myers said.

In addition to sponsorships, those who donate more than $200 will find a place on the T-shirt being made up for the run and 1,200 of those will be given away. Myers is also looking for anyone with services to offer up during the two-day event that are needed.
Vendors, donors or anyone wanting to help are encouraged to contact the organization through its website or on the group’s Facebook page.

This year Main Street will be shut down and vendors, eight to 10 bands and other activities will be found throughout the downtown area.

Saturday July 17, activities will start at 10 a.m. and last until 10 p.m. and Sunday July 18, the run kicks off at 9 a.m. with activities lasting into the evening, followed by live music as part of the Niles Summer Concert Series and Movies in the Park.

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