PLAINS TWP. — There was nothing cuddly about 400 grizzly bikers bearing down on blacktop atop rumbling buffed chrome and steel, but the massive caravan Sunday will help ensure thousands of furry creatures end up in loving homes.
The Wyoming Valley Motorcycle Club riders, along with many of their brothers and sisters in leather, mounted up from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Luzerne County for the group’s largest annual fundraiser.
“We’ve raised well over $100,000 over the years,” former club Vice President Juliane von Schmeling said. “We raise anywhere from $5,000 and $12,000 every year, depending on the weather.”
Like she does every year, von Schmeling’s daughter, Anastina, 19, was going along for the ride.
“It’s a great adventure. We’re doing it for a good cause, and it’s something we can do together as mother and daughter,” von Schmeling said. “I mean, we’ve been doing this since she was 4 years old.”
To the sound of warming engines, a chaplain from the Christian Motorcycle Association offered a prayer to protect the riders on their 60-mile trek, and he did not hesitate to give a salvation message to the formidable-looking crowd around him before it embarked.
With just about every head bowed, the bikers mouthed the prayer along with the chaplain.
Biker clubs from across the region often ask the CMA to show up for a prayer before a ride, association member Bob Lamson said.
“You’d be surprised some of the clubs that ask us to do this,” Lamson said. “It’s heartening to know that they think about that.”
Engines roared to life and the ground trembled at the sound of about 400 V-Twin engines growling in anticipation as the first bikes rolled out of the parking lot.
SPCA employees lined the side of the road snapping photos of the bikers as they shifted their weight, testing the push-back on suspension systems, and flicked their throttles to keep in tight formation.
It was the club’s 18th annual ride for the SPCA of Luzerne County.
At the end of the line, Ashley Volunteer Fire Hall, with the cover band Oz playing Joe Cocker tunes in the background, club President Paul Grey swirled cold beer in his cup and said the ride through Luzerne County got off without a hitch.
In all, about 425 riders registered, Grey said, garnering an estimated $8,500 before T-shirt and raffle ticket sales were figured in.
“We’ve had years that there were 500 riders, but this was definitely one of the top,” Grey said.
The SPCA holds three major fundraisers yearly. The motorcycle club earns the number-two spot for second-most dollars given, SPCA Development Director Peggy Nork said.
Fundraisers such as Sunday’s allow the SPCA to buy dog and cat food, pay for medical treatment and help animals rehabilitate so they can be ready for adoption.
The SPCA receives no state or federal funding, SPCA board President Lisa Natt said. “We survive strictly on donations,” she said.
The SPCA is the only open-admission animal shelter in Luzerne County, Nork said, which means it accepts all animals that come through the door.
“We take in anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 animals every year,” Nork said. “Our goal is to get every one of those animals adopted.”
Right now, there are more than 200 dogs and cats up for adoption in the SPCA, Natt said.