Each July, for the past 11 years, there is a distinct rumble that can be heard as thousands of motorcycles roll into town for Roar on the Shore®.
The American Motorcyclist Association’s (AMA)- sanctioned rally, which is set for July 12, 13, 14, 15 & 16 in 2017 and is recognized as the Official Bike Week for Erie, Pennsylvania, is welcomed by bikers and businesses alike as one of the region’s largest community fundraisers and economic drivers.
The Manufacturer & Business Association, which presents the bike week, along with the City of Erie, and more than 50 sponsors, is committed to supporting the rally and its economic impact. “Roar® is something that we’re extremely proud of. Created under Ralph Pontillo’s leadership, we’re proud to continue to support what has become one of our community’s greatest attractions,” says MBA President and CEO John Krahe. “Many of our members are sponsors of the event because they believe in what it means for our community.”
Harry Eighmy, chairman of the Roar on the Shore® Board and the Manufacturer & Business Association Board of Governors and chief operating officer at American Turned Products, echoes Krahe’s sentiments. “I think that the amount of participation by the business community, and the support for it, is just astronomical. Being one of the largest events, it touches everything in Erie County for that particular weekend. Until I sat in on one of the Roar® meetings, I never realized how much goes into it. It is unbelievable.”
In addition to raising funds for a local charity, organizers estimate that Roar® has injected more than $20 million in spending each year into the local economy — and an astonishing $200 million in economic spending over the past 10 years. “Although we think of Roar® as an Erie or Erie County event,” notes Krahe, “we believe that the ripple effect is much greater than even that $20 million value because there are people counties away that have increased activity, that we’re not even aware of, that are reaping many of the financial benefits of this event.”
As Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott explains, “Each year, more than 100,000 people come to our community to enjoy this event. The result is an extensive economic impact throughout Erie County and an excellent opportunity to welcome participants from all over the country to experience our city.”
“Roar on the Shore® is a great way to showcase all our community has to offer and to grow our tourism economy,” he adds. “We are very fortunate that the community embraces this event and helps us put our best foot forward for our many guests.”
At the heart of Roar’s® mission is a greater purpose to raise funds for a worthwhile charity, raising more than $840,000 to date since the rally began in 2007.
Past beneficiaries include the John Kanzius Cancer Research Fund, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Erie, local Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans and their families, SafeNet’s Big Backyard Children’s Garden, the Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign, the Perry 200 Commemoration, the Boys & Girls Club of Erie, St. Patrick’s Haven, Erie Homes for Children and Adults’ Project First Step, and 2016’s St. Martin Center New Playground Project.
Proceeds from Roar® 2017 will benefit the Mercy Center for Women, a ministry of the Sisters of Mercy that provides safe and supportive transitional housing, education and counseling for homeless women in the region. This year’s rally will have a direct impact on the Center’s “house to home” program.
“The Mercy Center for Women will benefit from this in helping our women and children find their place in the community once they graduate from the program,” explains Mercy Center Executive Director Jennie Hagerty. “Roar on the Shore® 2017 will forever leave a footprint here at Mercy Center for Women.”
“In addition to the financial contribution that the Roar on the Shore® is able to make, there are so many wonderful nonprofits that benefit, not only here in Erie, but also throughout the Erie area,” says Krahe. “This is just another way for us to help with getting information out about them. If you have never been in a position to need that charity to assist you in your personal life, you may have no idea about the great things that they’re doing. The nice thing is when you find yourself in that situation, if you need that assistance, more people are now aware of where to turn because of Roar®. And, so again, we’re certainly proud of being part of something that’s supporting such great charities. But it goes well beyond that — it’s making people aware of these charities if and when they need them.”
Roar® is a great way for many of the MBA members to also give back to the community and make an impact on a larger scale. “Many of these employers have always given back to the community, but it’s been more behind the scenes. Roar®, on the other hand, is a way they can continue to do what they’ve always done, but be a part of a big community event,” says Krahe.
John B. Pellegrino Sr., P.E., president and CEO of Ridg-U-Rak, Inc. in North East, has been a major sponsor of the event since the beginning 11 years ago. “Roar on the Shore® is dedicated to raising funds for local charities and creating a very powerful economic impact on our community. This objective is exactly the same objective that Ridg-U-Rak shares,” he says. “We strongly support our community and provide jobs and opportunity to hundreds of families and, at the same time, support charitable initiatives such as Roar on the Shore®. We are a proud American country who believes in America first.”
Industrial Sales and Manufacturing in Erie also has had a longstanding relationship with the Manufacturer & Business Association — and Roar®. “Our company is Erie homegrown with a deep commitment to our community,” states founder and CEO Jim Rutkowski Sr. “We support Roar on the Shore® for two main reasons. The funds raised are donated to a worthy cause. Last year, St. Martin’s Center and, this year, Mercy Center for Women are just two excellent examples of organizations that need our support. We are proud to be part of that effort. We also recognize the enormous economic impact this event has on our community. Although ISM does not benefit directly from this effort, we recognize that we are part of a larger community that can only succeed by working together.”
Major sponsor Street Track ’N Trail, too, sees the value of their ongoing support of Roar® and its mission. “Street Track ‘N Trail feels strongly about the charity aspect of the event, and is proud to be able to provide Roar® with what, we think, is a very unique program with our Harley-Davidson 6-Pack giveaway,” says owner Dick Lepley, of the charity bike raffle that benefits Roar®. “Greater involvement by businesses will encourage more growth, and that’s a good thing for all of us.”
For more information about this year’s bike week, visit www.roarontheshore.com.