The Norman Transcript

May 12, 2013

Sooner Lions Club ‘Ride for Sight’ braves chilly weather

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

It was a cold and windy morning. No, this is not the start of a cheap pulp fiction thriller, but is was the conditions for the first annual Sooner Lions Club “Ride for Sight” family bike ride in Norman. Members of the Sooner Lions Club started arriving about 7 a.m. at the tennis court parking lot of Norman High School just north of Main Street on Berry Road. Tables were set up, signs describing where to sign in and where to park were installed.

Coffee from Starbucks, bagels from Panera Bread, mini cinnamon rolls from Gourmet Donuts and OJ were all set up waiting for the riders who would brave the chilly weather and the increasing wind to participate in this charitable ride.

The Sooner Lions Club, Norman, has invested over $90,000 in buying eye glasses for kids in the Norman School System since the club adopted this mission many years ago. This April, the Sooner Lions Club celebrated its 50th year of operation. A food trailer operated by the club members on OU home football games for many years finally had to be sold because no location could be found for the trailer when the parking lot on Jenkins and Lindsey was taken over by the new athletic dorm.

Needing a method to raise money to continue serving the community of Norman with the eyeglass operation, the club decided to fill a niche in Norman with a 10 mile family oriented bike ride though the streets of downtown Norman.

So with lots of hope and little experience the effort was set in motion march of this year.

Gus Thompson, who with his family members operated OK Runner in Norman and Edmond was instrumental in explaining the process of planning, permitting, and executing an outdoor event in Norman. Many thanks to Gus.

The next effort was to try to obtain sponsors for the ride. Since there had never been a ride, there was some doubt about what we could expect. But the merchants and businesses of Norman and surrounding community proved to be supportive and generous once they heard our story. The Sooner Lions Club would like to think the following generous supporters of the first annual Ride for Sight.

Our Ultra Long Distance Donor was Big Red Sports and Imports, our Double Century donors were Red Dirt Report, City Plumbing, and Seth Wadley Auto Group,and our Century donors were Alpha Recycling, and Fowler Auto Group. Other donors were Louis Hemphill Insurance, Bob Moore, First American Bank, Westwood Veterinary Hospital, The Athletic Loft, Reynolds Autogroup, Stoneridege Enterprises, Citywide Mortgage, Central OK Vet Emergency, Eskridge Honda, 405 Bicycles, Arvest Bank, Rieger Realty, Road ID, Kevin Young, O.D., Agility Labs, Cindy Nashert, Sean Rieger Law Firm, Mitchell's Jewelry, Ellen Donaldson, John Melot Law Firm, CVS Minute Clinic, Gene Clinkenbeard, Matt Spaulding, Midway Deli, Chick-Fil-A, R&D Plumbing, Sonic HQ, Jack Shilling, Starbucks, OG&E. Aztec. Dave's Pharmacy, Buchanan Bicycles, Physical Therapy Central, Panera Bread, Custom Builders of Oklahoma, and Al's Bicycles. There are many others that contributed to the success of this first ride. Our appreciation goes out to all that assisted.

Permitting with the Norman High School could not have been handled any better. School officials were encouraging to our effort and supported the club activity in the middle of a very busy May schedule.

It is amazing how much goes on in Norman on an early May weekend. To plan an activity on the city streets of Norman, you need a parade permit.

We were having a ride, not a parade, but we still needed a parade permit.

Personnel at the Norman Police Department were friendly and helpful. When our ride route conflicted with other activities planned for the same day and hour as our ride, the police department was very inventive in figuring out how to accommodate both activities. During the ride, three patrol cars escorted the riders through the streets of downtown Norman,. Many thanks to city, the police department, and to the officials at Norman High School.

It was a diverse and hardy group of riders that assembled for the 9 a.m. start. The oldest rider was over sixty, the youngest rider was 10, and the youngest participant was 2. As in all first time events, the desire was for more participants, but we had just enough riders to teach us how to conduct the ride and do a better job next year.

The route was down south on Piccard then east and back on Jenkins and the Legacy Trail. Many thanks to the Norman Amateur Softball Foundation for use of the restrooms at Reaves Park.

Karen Rieger won the raffle for the bicycle donated in part by Al’s Bicycles. All of the riders said that the route was good and the overall operations of the ride was approved. No one liked the weather. Everyone loved the shirts.

Stay tuned to this news sight for information on the 2014 Sooner Lions Club Ride for Sight. It will be May 3, 2014, Same starting place and the same route.

Be there and enjoy great camaraderie and good family biking and remember, it is for a good cause.