WALL | To make this town more than just a pit stop for bikers traveling to the Sturgis motorcycle rally, local officials introduced an event Monday that they hope will show off all that Wall has to offer.
Around 15 bikers participated in the first Wall Crawl, which featured a car wash, poker run and concert. The event started at 11 a.m. with a Show and Shine at the Wall Car Care Center. A poker run followed, taking riders through Wall and parts of the Badlands. The event concluded with a live performance from 35th and Taylor.
The idea for the Wall Crawl came from a brainstorming session last November that involved community members, local businesses and chamber members. They wanted to find a way for Wall to become more involved in the rally.
Wall Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Cheyenne McGriff had met members of the nonprofit Ride Therapy Project at the 76th rally. She called to ask if they would be interested in participating the Wall Crawl, and the Black Hawk-based nonprofit quickly agreed.
"We believe the Wall Crawl is really important because it shows our community that we're forward-thinking," McGriff said.
The Ride Therapy Project gives disabled veterans the opportunity to ride motorcycles, which they call "wind therapy." They've given away four motorcycles, including one Monday night. This year's Wall Crawl featured a poker run with free-will donations benefiting the project.
"Every dollar goes to a new bike," said Robert Brancato, spokesman for the Ride Therapy Project.
Wall Crawl volunteer Cindy Hauk has lived in Wall for more than 40 years and owns a local flower shop. "Wall's got a lot to offer," she said. "We just don't always get to show it."
Hauk was one of a handful of event volunteers dressed in bright orange shirts. Almost every volunteer was a local business owner.
Unlike many nonprofits, Ride Therapy Project employees are unpaid. All of their donations go toward their mission: giving veterans a chance to ride. "When you look at therapy, why put everyone in one bucket?" Brancato said.
The project started because Darren Freidel, the project's vice president, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq. For Freidel, some of the best therapy came behind his handlebars.
"You have to focus on the road, you have to focus on what's around you. You can't focus on the demons," Brancato said.