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     Gardner Altman likes cars, old cars. He always has. All of his buddies though, they ride Harley’s. Altman tried it, but just never felt comfortable on a bike. He tried to get his friends in to cars, but that didn’t really work out either. Altman wanted to be a part of all of the rides for causes that his biker friends participated in, but showing up for a poker run in a convertible just didn’t seem right. Eventually, they met in the middle.
     The result? Hogs & Rags - a charity event that combines convertibles and motorcycles, good food, good causes and a good time. All makes and models of bikes and trikes are welcome, and street rods and muscle cars are, too.
     {mosimage} “Last year we had all types of motorcycles, convertibles and the street rods,” said Altman. “But really, if anyone came and said they wanted to drive a pick-up truck we wouldn’t exclude them- we’d say ‘Come on!’” 
     The first year, they were off to a really shaky start. It poured rain, and maybe only 75 or so folks showed up. Out of that group Altman says he thinks only about two people actually rode their bikes all the way to Myrtle Beach. No matter, here it is three years later and Altman and his friends have energized the entire community to the point that they are expecting between 450 and 500 people to come out on April 25 to enjoy the day and raise money for charity.
     “The past couple of years with the wars and the economy it seems as if people are saying ‘Let’s just get together for a day and be happy and just enjoy our cars and enjoy our motorcycles together and have a good breakfast and have a good lunch,’” said Altman. “Last year, I was impressed with the fact that it seemed to be a little bit of a relief day for everyone.’”
     Knowing that the ride will benefit others just makes the day that much sweeter. Proceeds will benefit the Autism Society of North Carolina, the American Cancer Society and Our Kids Can Read Foundation.
     Even though there is a police escort for the entire ride from Fayetteville to Myrtle Beach, S.C., the Hogs & Rags organizers know that keeping hundreds of riders safe is a huge undertaking and they have partnered with the Cape Fear HOG (Harley Owner’s Group) Chapter 3743 to ensure that everyone has a fun and safe ride.
     Assistant Director Steve Adam explains, “Being former military, every time you jump out of an airplane you follow a set of procedures and you do what is called a pre-jump. We do the same thing on a ride it is called a group riders course so they know how our HOG chapter rides. Then before each ride we give them a safety briefing and it covers the route, hand and arm signals and things to do in a ride and how to ride safely as a group; and that is what we are doing (for the Hogs & Rags event). I thought I would pass that on because on big rides like this you have people coming from all different backgrounds. Not only do you have Harley people, you have non-Harley owners. You are going to have sport bikes and other bikes on this ride too, and they don’t ride typically in a formal group.”
     And as Adam pointed out safety is always a priority because, “It is always better to have the cops in front of you rather than behind you.”
     While everyone loves a good time, raising money for charity is a big part of the Hogs & Rags mission. For anyone who rides or chooses to donate, this is where your money will go:
     Autism Society of North Carolina. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of developmental disabilities — including classic autism, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger’s Syndrome — that affect a person’s ability to understand what they see, hear and otherwise sense.
     American Cancer Society. The goal of the American Cancer Society (ACS) is to prevent cancer, save lives and diminish suffering from cancer. They are committed to fighting cancer through balanced programs of research, education, patient service, advocacy and rehabilitation.
     Our Kids Can Read. Despite ongoing efforts to provide reading and educational resources to our nation’s youth, illiteracy is still a problem in the United States. Our Kids Can Read (OKCR) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, founded in 2006 as an independent private charity organized to improve literacy among America’s youth. OKCR strives to increase literacy in our nation’s youth by providing support to various early learning and literacy-based initiatives across the country. OKCR approves distribution of its resources to qualified projects and institutions that endeavor to instill strong reading skills and good, solid character traits in America’s youth.
     Registration starts at 8 a.m. at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, where there will be coffee and donuts. Then the Cumberland County Sheriff will escort the riders to Altman’s farm, the Rockin’ “A” Ranch, in White Oak, where everyone will be served a full breakfast. The next stop is the Food Lion in Tabor City for a water and bathroom break, with the ride ending at 2001 in Myrtle Beach with a Low Country coastal buffet catered by Bimini’s. There will be a 50/50 raffle, with the entire event ending by 3 p.m., leaving plenty of time to make it back to Fayetteville to enjoy an evening of Dogwood Festival activities.
     Registration is $50 per bike or car and $30 for each additional passenger. Register early or make a donation at www.hogsandrags.com, or call 484-0041 for more info.


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