Harley for Horses: April motorcycle run fuels therapeutic horseback riding

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, April 4, 2018

LAPLACE — There’s no sight quite like the endless row of headlights that gleam as more than 150 motorcycles curve onto Highway 22 from U.S. 51.

Greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center founder Anita Hefler said the annual Harley for Horses Motorcycle Run is an awesome experience that benefits a great cause.

Roddie Bardwell stands with the motorcycles at Manny’s Bar in Maurepas during a previous Harley for Horses Motorcycle Run.

Entering its 19th year, the run has collected an average of $15,000 annually for GNOTRC to help children and adults with physical, emotional and learning disabilities build strength and focus through horseback riding.

Proceeds allow services to remain an affordable $25, though the cost of providing classes has risen to about $80.

Open to all makes of motorcycles, the ride departs at 11 a.m. April 22 from LaPlace Travel Center, pauses for lunch at Manny’s Bar in Maurepas and ends at Airline Motors in LaPlace.

The entry fee, $30 for a single rider and $50 for a rider with a passenger, covers lunch and admission to a post run celebration featuring music and a raffle. Riders who pre-register by April 13 also receive a Harley for Horses 2018 T-shirt.

The Ride will once again be dedicated to fallen St. John the Baptist Parish Deputy Brandon Nielson, who spent many years organizing the event and escorting bikes.

Hefler said Nielsen had a passion for the event and is dearly missed.

“When Brandon was here, all I had to do was make one phone call and everything was organized,” Hefler said. “I’d email him, and he’d get so excited. He’d always respond, ‘Great! This is going to be the best day!’”

During the event, donations will be accepted for families of fallen St. John Parish officers.

Harley for Horses extends back to 1999, when a pet potbellied pig named Harley was surrendered to GNOTRC. The prior owners made an agreement to pay $25 a month to cover Harley’s expenses but failed to follow through.

Deciding to turn lemons into lemonade, Hefler made Harley the mascot of a motorcycle run to raise money for GNOTRC’s upkeep.

Harley has since passed, but Harley for Horses Motorcycle Run is going strong.

Mail-in entries addressed to GNOTRC P.O. Box 23284 New Orleans, LA 70183 must be postmarked by April 13.

Registration will also be available onsite beginning at 9 a.m. For more information, call 504-466-9960 or 985-651-LADY or visit gnotrc.com.