NEWPORT TWP. -- More than 300 motorcyclists from throughout the area came out to support the 11th Annual Valley with a Heart on Sunday to support local children with serious illness.
The bikers set out from the Holy Family Grove in Sheatown after an early-morning registration and breakfast.
This year's poster children for the event were Riley Schmidt, 2, of Hanover Township; Emilee Hillard, 10, of Sweet Valley; and Jacob Maniscaco, no age or town given.
Valley with a Heart was formed in 2001 by Rick Terementz of Wapwallopen as a way to raise money for 11-year-old cancer patient Elsie Harrison of Plymouth Township.
Elsie lost her battle with cancer, but Terementz was inspired by her fight with the disease to make the benefit a yearly event.
"It's such a wonderful feeling to know that you're actually having an impact in these children's lives," said Nancy Heck, a member of Valley with a Heart since its inception.
"All the hard work definitely pays off. As long as Rick needs me, I'll be right here."
She said the group has supported local children and their families by providing funding for gas, mortgage payments, food, utilities and expenses incidental to mounting medical costs.
"We've even built room additions for our poster children," said Heck.
Heck said the organization has raised more than $300,000 so far in 2012, and it is on pace to exceed last year's fundraising totals.
All funds are administered through the Luzerne Foundation and benefit local children.
This year's event featured live entertainment by a number of local bands, food and merchandise vendors, as well as a charity dunk tank and mechanical bull rides.
"Bikers are good people," said John Campas of Campas Collision, who participated in several charity rides each summer.
"Whenever my friends call, I come out to show my support."
Event organizers want to thank the many volunteers who donated time, money and merchandise to make the 2012 benefit a success.
Visit valleywithaheart.com for additional information or donations.