To say that Harley-Davidson and MDA were made for each other doesn’t fully do the relationship justice. But for two organizations that may seem on their surfaces to have little in common, there are a number of uncanny similarities. One of them I continue to be surprised by is the spirit of living unlimited. Harley riders exemplify what it means to Live Unlimited, and they are committed to helping kids and adults living with muscle-debilitating diseases Live Unlimited, too.
One of the ways Harley-Davidson helps MDA families Live Unlimited is through the annual Black-N-Blue Ball. Now, this isn’t your typical gala. There are no tuxedos and no fancy gowns. Instead, attendees don their finest “black” leather and “blue” denim to fit with the motorcycle theme. With the support of Harley-Davidson, the ball has raised more than $9 million over the past 22 years to help support MDA’s vital work.
My experience at the 2016 Black-N-Blue Ball event was unbelievable. I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect prior to attending the event. I’ve heard so many people rave about how much fun it was so my expectations were pretty high. I’m glad to report that not only were my expeditions met, they were far exceeded by the end of the night. Here at MDA, getting to attend the Ball is the highlight of the year for many. Needless to say I felt lucky to snag one of the “Golden Tickets” everyone was after.
Immediately after beginning rehearsals on the day of the event with longtime friend of MDA Jann Carl, I knew I was in for a treat. Normally when I speak at events, I have about five minutes to address the crowd. But this time, I had the pleasure of co-hosting the show with Jann and it was a blast. We must have been on stage together for about 20 minutes and I loved every second. Not to mention two more of my dreams were fulfilled when I was lifted to the stage on an elevating
platform (like I was a stand-in for Britney Spears) and also when I got to try my hand at a bit of stand-up comedy. Although, I guess in my case it’s actually “sit-down” comedy.
The fun didn’t stop there. One of the best parts of the night was when Karen Davidson (yes, THE Karen Davidson, the great-granddaughter of the company’s co-founder, William A. Davidson,) surprised me by coming to the event. I was so bummed when I heard that she wouldn’t be able to make it because we really hit it off at Bike Week in Daytona in March. Little did I know she had a few tricks up her sleeve.
But the best part of the night was a bit of a surprise, too. Nerves are always high before we announce the fund raising total at any event, but in this case, there was good news – really good news. This year’s event raised a record-breaking $1,088,000 for MDA! That $170,000 more than last year’s total. Think about how many kids that helps send to camp! Or, how much research that helps fund. I’m amazed at the kindness and generosity of Harley-Davidson and its riders. From top to bottom, it’s obvious that everyone in the company truly cares about helping families and individuals living with muscle-debilitating diseases live longer and grow stronger. With Harley by MDA’s side, there’ nothing we can’t do.