Head out on the highway
If it’s a nice weekday, there’s a 99 percent chance you’ll see Darren Marshall riding to JCCC on his motorcycle.
Marshall, senior support analyst, loves riding, and he’s combined his love for motorcycles with a cause close to his heart – pediatric brain tumors.
Marshall is one of four task-force leaders for the 2012 Ride for Kids, a motorcycle ride July 29 hosted at JCCC.
His role, as it has been for the last six years, is to be the logistical manager for the ride. He helps reserve tents that are then set up in the lawn near the Regnier Center. He makes sure the grass is cut extra low for the kids who show up with crutches and wheelchairs.
These kids, called the “stars” of the ride, have battled or are battling brain tumors. They ride in sidecars and enjoy the wind on their faces, a special treat from the hours many of them spend in hospitals and doctor’s offices.
Marshall also plans the route for the ride. Though it changes every year (and it was especially difficult to plan around the Quivira Road construction project this year), Marshall aims for curves only a motorcycle rider can understand.
“It’s a motorcycle thing,” he said. “Part of the feeling and pleasure of riding a motorcycle is leaning into the curve…It’s hard to be a motorcyclist in Kansas."
“Curves also usually mean scenery,” Marshall said. “I usually try to hit as many lakes and parks as I can.”
The 2012 route will head west on College Boulevard, make its way south past the Johnson County Executive Airport, then through Heritage Park, bank along the west side of the New Century Air Center and Lake Olathe and then head back to JCCC.
Participants meet at JCCC, and after registration, coffee and a light breakfast are available. After the ride, a box lunch is served. “During the Celebration of Life, exemplary fundraisers are honored, and a doctor speaks about the latest advances in treating pediatric brain tumors, and the stars are interviewed,” Marshall said.
“It’s incredible what they’ve been able to do in treatment [of tumors],” he said. “The new technology, these new ideas -- what they’ve come up with is pretty amazing.”
Marshall has ridden in all eight of the previous rides in Kansas City as well as Ride for Kids events in St. Louis, Mo. and a handful of other cities. “You could join a charitable ride every weekend in Kansas City if you wanted to,” he said. “The people are there – you don’t have to ride a Harley, you don’t have to ride a Honda – you just have to ride.”
Two co-workers deserve credit toward Marshall’s involvement in Ride for Kids, he said. The first is Vickie Lenz, who worked in the Center for Business and has since retired. She gave Marshall a Honda motorcycle “she just wanted out of her garage,” Marshall said. It needed work, and Marshall, handy with tools, fixed it up and hit the open road.
The second is Tony LaRocco, who worked with Marshall in the Information Technology department of JCCC. LaRocco died of a brain tumor, Marshall said, and it compelled Marshall to do whatever he could to stop that from happening to anyone else.
Last year, the ride raised $50,097 for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Since the ride moved to JCCC in 2006, the Ride for Kids has donated a total of more than $221,000, Marshall said.