Bikers Against Street Hunger fundraiser ready to roar

By Ken Keenan for Chronicle Media

The Coalition of Central Illinois Motorcyclists will hold its Bikers Against Street Hunger BASH 2023 Saturday, Sept. 16. (Bikers Against Street Hunger Facebook photo)

The sound of roaring engines will fill the air on Saturday, Sept. 16 when the Coalition of Central Illinois Motorcyclists kickstarts Bikers Against Street Hunger BASH 2023, a fundraising event to benefit Peoria-based Phoenix Community Development Services and Christian Civic Outreach, in Pekin.

Things get started with a parade of roughly 200 motorcycles, departing via police escort from Itoo Banquet Hall, in Peoria, at 11 a.m. and landing in Kingston Mines Park for a day filled with music, food and beverages, a bike show (with awards) and an auction featuring a wide variety of items.

“This is the 32nd year of the event,” said BASH 2023 media coverage representative Ben Madigan. “It had a humble beginning at Sadie’s Cafe, a restaurant in downtown Peoria, helping people in need with meals. Then the Peoria Police Department got involved, and as the event grew, motorcyclists became involved … different biker groups got involved.”

One of the event’s main highlights is the auction, offering everything from motorcycle gear (leather jackets, chaps, T-shirts) to quilts to gift certificates from local businesses, (including restaurant coupons) and much more.

Madigan said that $15,000 was raised for each charitable organization during last year’s BASH. Phoenix Community Development Services provides individuals, families and veterans in need with a safe place to live — away from the streets — and also helps them set and achieve goals to become stable, self-sufficient members of society. Christian Civic Outreach is a nonprofit organization that provides general assistance and supplies to needy families in Tazewell County.

“The money we raise is going to a good cause,” Madigan said. “It’s done for people in need. We’re helping those who need help, whether it’s clothes, food, education — whatever is needed.”

Another highlight of BASH is the annual Bike Show, which offers Best of Show trophies, “in all the different classes,” Madigan said. “Throughout the auction, we’ll announce the winners. You can look at the bikes, come back to the auction and get something to eat. It’s a big part of the event.”

Speaking of food, Madigan said plenty of fresh meat will be cooked on a grill by the Christian Motorcycle Association. Beverages, chips, desserts and more will also be available for purchase.”

“If you walk away hungry, it’s your own fault,” Madigan said with a laugh. “A lot of work goes into it by the people involved.”

Admission to BASH 2023 is $10 per person, and the public is welcome to attend — with or without a motorcycle.

“Non-biker people come, too,” Madigan said. “We’ll have friends of bikers … a lot of connections with local families. With this event, you get a variety of people who are committed to the effort.”

Once the convoy of bikers arrives at Kingston Mines Park, sign-in for the Bike Show runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; the auction is scheduled for 12:30-4:30 p.m.

“If you love people, and you’re aware of their needs — homeless, poor, broken families — this event is all about helping them,” Madigan said. “You come for the festivities, and then you realize it’s about helping someone else. It fills a need and people are glad to be a part of it.”

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