A two-day event designed to raise awareness about youth bullying will take place this weekend.
The second annual Ride for Bully Awareness/Cape Coral will be held Sunday at 9 a.m. at the German American Social Club, with registration for the motorcycle ride open from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. Hosted by the Rebel Riders RC, the ride will be followed with an after party at the club from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thomas MacKenn, the event organizer, explained that the local ride is being held in conjunction with the International Ride for Bully Awareness, presented by StopBully.com, based in Alberta, Canada.
"Last year, we did the ride and the after party," he said, adding that it was open to the public, but the reception was not as expected. "So this year, we decided to take it a step further and expand it."
On Saturday, the 2014 Bully Awareness Family Event will take place from noon to 6 p.m. at the German American Social Club. The Bully Awareness Bike Night will follow from 6:30 to 10 p.m.
"It's to get everybody pumped up for the ride on Sunday," MacKenn said.
What: Bully Awareness Family Event
When: Saturday, Aug. 23, from noon to 6 p.m.
Where: German American Social Club, 2101 S.W. Pine Island Road
2014 Bully Awareness Bike Night
When: Saturday, Aug. 23, from 6:30 to 10 p.m.
Where: German American Social Club
What: Ride for Bully Awareness/Cape Coral
and after party
When: Sunday, Aug. 24, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with kickstands up at 9 a.m.
Where: German American Social Club
Admission is free to Saturday's family event. It will feature activities, games and prizes.
"We have some inflatable water slides, and we have some bounce houses," he said. "There is an inflatable obstacle course and a dunk tank."
A live deejay will provide the entertainment, and there will be 50/50 raffles.
"We have all kinds of food vendors," MacKenn said. "We have tons of nonfood vendors."
Children will have a chance to sign an anti-bullying pledge, with a copy sent to their school. Those signing the pledge can be entered into a drawing, with their parents' consent. MacKenn explained that approximately 25 to 30 winners will be selected to take part in Sunday's motorcycle ride - by bus.
"They'll be escorted by the bikes," he said.
MacKenn pointed out that the goal is to get the community involved.
"The whole point of this entire event is to raise awareness of the bullying issue," he said.
The Bully Awareness Bike Night will feature live entertainment from the local band Aftermath, and radio station 96 K-ROCK will broadcast from the event. There will be vendors and 50/50 raffles.
On Sunday, Kevin's Old Time Pancakes will serve up an all-you-can-eat-breakfast starting at 7 a.m. The cost of the breakfast is $5. The registration fees for the ride are $15 per rider and $5 per passenger. Those who sign up for the ride in advance can elect to buy an event T-shirt for $10 - a $5 savings.
"It's a 94.6-mile ride," MacKenn said of the route. "It makes a big loop."
Last year, 120 motorcycles participated in the event.
"Which was really not bad considering we were up against a memorial ride for a fallen Punta Gorda police officer," he said.
Among the 23 participating cities nationwide, the Cape had the second highest attendance.
This year, seven countries and 90 cities worldwide are taking part.
"It is an international ride," MacKenn said.
Organizers are aiming to register 500 motorcycles for this year's Cape ride.
"I am really struggling and hoping to get close to 500," he said.
As of Thursday, about 50 had preregistered, but 175 to 200 were expected to show up day of.
MacKenn explained that the ride with the highest number of participants gets to serve as Ground Zero for next year's event. StopBully.com organizes the activities and hosts the ride - on their dime.
"That would allow us to bring a lot of revenue into this city off season," he said "We would be able to attract riders from across the state and even from neighboring states, like Alabama and Georgia."
The after party will again feature a live deejay and vendors.
MacKenn noted that the Rebel Riders RC want to jumpstart anti-bullying educational programs, like talking to children's groups or different organizations. Proceeds from the event will go toward that.
"We believe the way to kill the spirit of bullying is to empower the youth," he said.
Organizers encouraged the public to come out and take part.
"It's the simple fact that people see the different stories about bullying on TV. They see it on Facebook," MacKenn said. "This is somebody's way of doing something about this."
"It's not something that a handful of people can fix," he added. "It has to be a community effort."
The German American Social Club is at 2101 S.W. Pine Island Road.
For more information or to register online for the ride, visit: www.thebullyride.com.
For information about the Rebel Riders RC, visit: www.rebelridersmc.com .