Daily News

Ride Like an Animal Poker Run to Benefit TJO Shelter Animals

SPRINGFIELD — Motorcycle and sports-bike enthusiasts from around the region are gearing up for this year’s Ride Like an Animal (RLAA) Poker Run and Party on Aug. 23, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event raises funds to benefit homeless animals sheltered at Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center (TJO).

“This will be the sixth year for Ride Like an Animal, and the event just keeps growing,” said Thomas J. O’Connor Foundation Development Director Melinda Thomas, adding that last year’s event drew 300 participants and raised $15,000. “What makes this event different from other runs is the presence of animals, on bikes and off. Last year, there were lots of dogs participating in the ride — pomeranians, poodles, terriers, and all kinds of mixes. Some ride in sidecars, some in customized handlebar seats, others in snuggle sacks — many with goggles. It is really something to see.” In addition, since the ride begins at TJO Adoption Center, participants can meet shelter animals up for adoption and TJO alumni, many decked out in riding gear.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. at the TJO Adoption Center, 627 Cottage St., Springfield. Riders will leave with a police escort from the shelter and travel to the first stop, Atkins Farm in Amherst. The second stop will be Southampton Harley Davidson, and the ride ends at American Legion Post #338, 46 Powder Mill Road in Southwick, with a party that features live music by Rock 201, a barbecue, and raffles.

Thomas emphasized that it’s not necessary to travel the route or even have a motorcycle to participate in the event. “Lots of people come just for the after-party to socialize and support the shelter through raffles.” Tickets to the after-party cost $15 and can be purchased online or at the door. All registration and raffle funds directly support animals being sheltered.

“About 90% of what we raise from RLAA pays for medical treatments for sick and injured animals that our animal control officers bring in. The other 10% pays for supplies like cat and dog toys and treats,” said Thomas. “Lately, we have been taking in a lot of locally abandoned dogs and cats with major problems like broken bones, severe matting, and eye and mouth infections, so RLAA comes at a time that will truly make a difference to these needy animals.”

Tickets for Ride Like an Animal cost $25 for adult drivers, $20 for adult passengers, and $15 for passengers ages 12-17. Those who register online at www.tjofoundation.org before Aug. 15 will get a free RLAA T-shirt and gift. There is no rain date. Major sponsors for this year’s event include Southampton Harley Davidson, Hampden Bank, Teddy Bear Pools & Spas, and VCA Shaker Road Animal Hospital. Contact Thomas at (413) 533-4817 or [email protected] for more information about Ride Like an Animal. Questions about ride route and conditions can be directed to Jason Moyer at (413) 679-1196.

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