By Susan Johnson
The Fire and Iron Motorcycle Club is planning a benefit ride July 19 for the Illinois Burn Camp and the OSF Burn Ward. Lanny Wong, a committee member, granted The Rock River Times an exclusive interview.
TRRT: Who belongs to your club? How did it get started?
Lanny Wong: Fire and Iron Station 53 is a motorcycle club made up of northern Illinois area firefighters that loves to ride and promote various benefit events. Primary members are firefighters, as well as their spouses. Most of our members are firefighters or retired firefighters. We can have honorary members or sponsored members as well as the firefighters. Those that are not firefighters can be sponsored y a primary member. [The club] started in Florida about seven or eight years ago. It just kept going. There are about 100 stations (chapters). We call them stations because it’s related to the fire department. We have fire stations, so whoever decided to call them stations instead of chapters, it seemed appropriate. We had two groups that just started stations in Germany. We have one in Canada and about 100 in the United States. We have a national rally coming in Wisconsin Dells June 2-6. …
I’m organizing a pre-rally on June 1. Anyone who wants to attend our “Meet and Greet” will be at the Holiday Inn from 6 p.m. to close. The next morning, June 2, any bikers or riders that can meet have to go through Rockford to get to Wisconsin Dells. We are going to a pre-rally at Kegel Harley-Davidson dealership. About 11 o’clock, we will all leave for the dealership as one big group. I’m anticipating at least 300 bikers to attend the pre-rally. The last rally they had in Kentucky, they had over 1,000. The stations in Wisconsin and Dakota and Minnesota — those groups will probably just meet up at Wisconsin Dells, but we have groups from down South, Kentucky, Florida. … They’re coming from all over for this national rally. The focus for our club is not just the ride itself — enjoying the freedom of the ride. We participate in a variety of different charity rides.
TRRT: Is your club based in Rockford or some other city?
LW: We have monthly meetings that are rotated to the various members’ fire stations. Our events consist of many rides that are sanctioned by the club, or we will support other clubs in the area and support various veteran groups. Since we are an international motorcycle club, we have bylaws that govern our organization. Our club designation is Station 53, which all clubs are referred to as stations, based on the fire service term, rather than clubs.
TRRT: Are your members taking individual pledges, or how do they get the donations?
LW: When we do our benefit rides, we get the majority of our money through registration. Then we also get private donations. We sell T-shirts, and some of the proceeds go to — it’s split between Burn Camp and OSF, and part of it goes to the club for expenses. The other ride we have is the Fallen Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers. That benefit basically is money that’s given in memorials. It’s essentially a memorial fund.
TRRT: How did you happen to select the Burn Camp and OSF Burn Ward as recipients of your benefit ride?
LW: Since we were firefighters, it’s always been that way. As firefighters, we see a lot of burn victims. It’s a burn camp. Every year for a week, they have a camp that the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance rents out from the YMCA or some such group.
TRRT: How many years have you done benefits?
LW: This will be the third year for Burn Camp. We are having another fund-raiser in May. It’s called “Cut for a Cause.” This year, we have expanded our benefit from last year’s Burn Camp Ride to include OSF Burn Ward. The members are hair stylists. We will have three hair stylists to donate whatever you want. All the proceeds will go to Burn Camp and Burn Ward. The money that is generated went to support the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, which sponsors the Burn Camp. Station 53 decided to include OSF; since they are local, it was fitting that we should support them as well.
Schedule of events is as follows:
May 10: Cut for a Cause, hosted by Kegels Harley-Davidson dealership at Cherry Valley, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Hair stylists and massage therapists will donate their proceeds to Burn Camp and Burn Ward.
June 1-2: Fire and Iron Station 17 hosts the National Rally at Wisconsin Dells. Station 53 will have a “Meet and Greet” at Holiday Inn June 1 for those who are traveling through Rockford. “The following day, we will gather together and ride as a group to the Dells,” Wong said. “Since most of the bikers will be going through Rockford, our intention is to showcase Rockford and promote some of the businesses who donated various items in our gift bags. We anticipate at least 300 bikes leaving at 11 o’clock. This is not a benefit ride.”
July 5: Fire and Iron Station 53 will host a Firefighter and Law Enforcement benefit ride for the families of the Fallen Heroes. They will partner with Blue Iron and Public Guardians, a law enforcement motorcycle club. This ride will be escorted by the various fire and police departments in their respective jurisdiction. Registration at 8 a.m.; ride will leave Boone County Fairgrounds at 10 a.m. and arrive at Kegels Harley-Davidson around 2 p.m. There will be food, drinks, three different bands, bike show, and precision riding from Lock and Lean. Cost: $20 per biker and $15 for passenger, which includes lunch and all of the activities.
July 19: Fire and Iron Station 53 will host a local burn ride to benefit Burn Camp and the OSF Burn Ward, starting from Rascal’s Bar and Grill in Loves Park. Registration is 10:30 a.m. to noon, and ride begins at noon. Return to Rascal’s around 3:30-4 p.m. This event includes a late lunch with music and 50/50. Cost is $20 per biker and $15 per passenger. Cost for just late lunch is $10 if you’re not riding.
Aug. 23: Fire and Iron Station 53 will host a benefit ride for Burn Camp and the OSF Burn Ward starting at Poopy’s Bar and Grill on Highway 84, Savanna, Ill., and ends at Poopy’s between 3-4 p.m. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and ride begins at 11 a.m. Cost is $20 per biker and $15 per passenger. Live music will be featured.
From the May 7-13, 2014, issue