By Molly McCarthy, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – The Marlborough Eagle Riders #3565 live true to their motto of “people helping people” by consistently combining their love of riding with helping the community. Their mission is to have fun in a family-oriented organization dedicated to the enjoyment of motorcycles and safe riding while promoting the Fraternal Order of Eagles (FOE).
The Eagle Riders are a division of the FOE, an international nonprofit organization whose notable past members include former U.S. presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.
Dick Durkee of Franklin, past FOE president and current president of the Marlborough Eagle Riders #3565, started the group five years ago. Durkee is no stranger to event planning or fundraising; he had
been running an annual charity motorcycle ride for eight years, as well as planning numerous comedy shows.
For the past five years, the Eagle Riders have been involved in planning and running its annual Charity Ride. The members now host and support multiple fundraising events within the community.
This year, the 13th annual Charity Ride took place June 23. The 50-mile ride hosted approximately 60 riders and included a cookout with music, food and raffles. Durkee expects the event to have raised between $2,000 and $3,000, with all proceeds donated to the Wounded Warriors Project. Last year's Charity Ride supported the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
The FOE supports the annual event by volunteering to cook and donating food and baskets for the raffle. The FOE also makes monetary donations to the causes supported by Eagle Riders.
“Everything today is donated, the baskets, the raffle stuff, the cooking is all volunteer,” Durkee said. “They [the FOE] support us and we help support them. We are close to $200,000 a year in charity giving from the Fraternal Order of the Eagles.”
Lead Road Captain Gerianne Beane of Marlborough has been a member for three years.
“My father was an Eagle member. He was a bartender there. They played pool and poker and that's all I knew about the Eagles until I joined. It is much more than a place to go play pool,” Beane said.
Beane planned the 13th annual Charity Ride and is helping to plan the SJL Memorial Scholarship Fund Motorcycle Ride scheduled for Aug. 10 in Marlborough, in memory of Shawna Jean Larassa, a 19-year-old who died in an automobile accident in 2009.
In 2012 the Eagle Riders sponsored “Olivia's Ride” in memory of Olivia McGowan who passed away in 2011 from Fryns Syndrome. “Fifteen thousand-plus was donated to Children's Hospital Boston from that event,” Durkee said.
Some other causes the Eagle Riders have supported include the Muscular Dystrophy Association, 15-40 Connection, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Greater Marlboro Programs, Inc., and the Joe Andruzzi Foundation.
“If you have something that you want to do to raise money or you have a cause that you want to try to raise money for, all you have to do is bring it up. Ninety-nine-point-five percent of the time it gets done somehow, someway. It might not be thousands and thousands of dollars every time – some of them are smaller and some are bigger,” Durkee said. “We are all involved with the Eagles as a whole and we all do our own things.”
The Eagle Riders currently has approximately 40 members. When the group is not riding for charity, members can be found taking bike trips and camping.
The Eagle Riders meet on the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Marlborough Eagles, 56 Florence St. There is a weekly ride every Wednesday at 6 p.m. For information on the Eagle Riders, visit www.maeagleriders.org. For information on the Fraternal Order of the Eagles #3565, visit www.marlboroeagles3565.com.