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Hearts of gold

Complimentary breakfast, free lunch and a free T-shirt! And that’s not even the best part of the day. The truly wonderful things were really free: the great sunshine, perfect weather, crisp first day of fall and a benefit for charity.

The ride was to benefit the American Heart Association. Despite the competition from four other bike rides (all for good causes), this ride saw a good-hearted, if somewhat smaller crowd. At the start of the ride I counted 28 bikes, which translates into almost 50 people.

The riders even included one of my very best students, Dustin and his girlfriend Nichole. Dustin has a brand new Harley and gave up a ride to New York to participate in the fun for the Heart Association. Who says this generation is a lost one? With kids like these two I think our future is in good hands. Dustin’s group, though, took the road less traveled, and still managed to end up back at Chacko’s for the great lunch.

Last year Chacko’s had a smaller rally that included a bike show. But this year Kara Chacko tells me that her dad rides, “so he wanted to do a long run.” After they started to advertise the ride they got a call from Dennis at CBX Man who asked if they could be a part of the event. Dennis brought Close Encounters, a stunt rider crew of very young men, which put on a show at the end of the ride. These guys were awesome. I know I can’t balance that well, and to see the little guys doing some of the tricks on their little quads was quite something. I am just glad I’m not one of those guys’ mothers; I’d hate to think about all the Band-Aids they must have gone through to get to be that good.

Danny Chacko, Kara’s dad, tells me that they volunteered to host the ride this year and the rally last year. But he readily admits that Kara did all the organizing. However, we really have to give Danny all the credit for the route. Danny planned the whole run and ran a practice run as well. He gets the credit despite the one missed turn; I think he just wanted to see how well we could all do a U-turn!

When asked why they volunteered to run this event, both Kara and Danny mentioned Danny’s brother who had muscular dystrophy as the reason. Kara mentions that “There’s a lot of heart-related disease in our own family and with our customers. That’s why we do this.” They tell us that having someone with this type of illness makes you more aware of the plight of others.

This awareness extends to the design of the new Chacko’s bowling alley. Because of Danny’s brother’s handicap, Kara tells us that “When we built this new building, we made sure that everyone could get to every lane. Even the bathrooms are handicap accessible.” Danny echoes that sentiment, saying “Having a brother with MD we are more used to walkers and wheelchairs.” This is evident in the openness to accessibility that encompasses the automatic front doors, the level entrance from the parking lot and the ease to get to the lanes. Additionally, the facility provides ramps for handicap bowling so places like the Veterans Affairs Hospital or nursing homes don’t have to bring their own.

You may not think of a bowling alley as someplace that needs to be accessible, but if you’ve ever taken a group of people with special needs out and watched them enjoy the fun of bowling with the special ramps and bumpers that Chacko’s provides you would see how important this is. Chacko’s provides that enjoyment every day of every year, not just on a bike-run Sunday.

The ride started out from Chacko’s and proceed down Wilkes-Barre Boulevard towards Ashley, winding its way through Mocanaqua to Council Cup and through the back roads around there. The ride then rejoined civilization on state Route 11 at Berwick and headed back home. I thought for a while there that V-Rod Earl and the old man were going to race to see who was fastest.

Waiting at the end of the ride was a warm buffet of homemade food prepared by the staff at Chacko’s. Kara says that without the hard work of the staff who had been cooking all day this wouldn’t have been possible.

Even though this was a smaller number of people, they all came out for a good cause on a beautiful day and had a wonderful time for charity. When asked if they were going to run another one like this next year, both Danny and Kara said resoundingly “Oh yeah!” I’m looking forward to that one already.

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