One of my favorite interviews of the year is catching up with the Water Buffalos. This group, if you are not familiar with them, is an inspiring example of how a couple of people with an idea and a vision can spur a movement.
I suspect that twelve years ago, Ken Howe and Bill Persich could not have imagined that their crazy idea to combine their passion for motorcycle-riding with a desire to help others would have led to raising $1 million for charity. But that’s exactly what happened.
That first year, six Water Buffalos raised $20K. Over the next decade, they inspired many more to join them on their journeys from their home towns to wherever the national AWWA event was being held, raising donations for Water For People along the way.
I recently spoke with Water Buffalo President Alex Hood at AWWA’s ACE event in Philadelphia in June. This year’s ride attracted one of the largest groups they’ve seen. “We had a total of 29 motorcycles attend, with 33 members with a few passengers on board. We rode a combined 40,000 miles to get to Philadelphia.”
Hood noted that one couple even spent their 32nd wedding anniversary in Niagara Falls riding from Seattle, Wash. As you might expect, they also scooped the award for the farthest distance traveled this year.
When I caught up with Hood at the 2016 ACE event, the group was just shy of the elusive million-dollar milestone - but no more. “It’s turned out well,” he said in Philly. “This year we officially crossed the million-dollar mark of funds raised over the past 12 years.”
But that’s not the Water Buffalos’ only exciting news! They’ve tweaked their motorcycle raffle to appeal to a wider audience. “This year, we decided to allow the winner to choose what kind of vehicle they might want,” he explained. Choices include an Indian Scout motorcycle, a Polaris Ranger UTV, or a Polaris Sportsman ATV. “So, the winner gets to pick what kind of style they might need or use in their life,” he said.
Entries for the raffle cost $20 apiece and will be accepted through September 30. The winner will be selected by random drawing on October 7 at 1:00 pm EST. If you want to donate, sponsor, join - or simply learn a little more - please visit RideWithPurpose.org.