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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Riding for babies

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Photo by Clover Birdsell Robert and Jeanne Foster of Union raised about $3,000 locally for the March of Dimes this year in preparation for the 2009 Bikers for Babies rally in Little Rock on Sept. 19.
Giving to March of Dimes is not a donation of size, but heart. For Robert and Jeanne Foster of Union, whether to participate in charity work is not a question. They are honored for the third year to be able to donate their time and energy to the March of Dimes donation drive, Bikers for Babies.

"What's good for the kids is good for the country," Robert said sitting at his kitchen table. A photo of Robert with the couple's Harley Davidson Heritage Soft Tail was framed among a collage of family photos and paintings. "We have a good life. We've done good. We are thankful for what we have and we find that this is a good way to give something back. This is a good way to do it."

The Fosters conducted a three-month donation drive and collected $2,950 from Mountain Home to Hardy and from Mammoth Spring to Batesville for Bikers for Babies, a charity drive that despite the rain brought over 1,000 bikers from across the state to the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock for the 2009 Bikers for Babies charity run.

"It's great," Robert said. "People are more than happy to give. They look forward to us coming. They are sitting there writing a check or handing you money when you walk in the door. It's just great."

No matter how much each person can give, it is the act of giving that really matters.

"I have had them say that 'I can't give much.' Then I say, well, if we get together and you give a little and we all give a little then we end up with a whole lot," Robert said. "It works. The whole community, from point to point, we've never had a bad experience."

The Fosters ride independently, primarily. The Fosters participate in Biker Sundays, riding across the state and in southern Missouri.

Last year 4,000 bikers came together in Little Rock, collecting over $135,000 for the March of Dimes.

Twelve rally points in Arkansas gathered early in the morning on Saturday, Sept. 19. The Fosters joined other area bikers at Showroom Motors in Batesville, turned in their contributions and began their ride. All rally groups joined up at Toad Suck, where the entire party rode together, parade style with police escort to the Clinton Library.

"Bikers are getting into a lot of charities, trying to change the image," Jeanne said. In an effort to use the biker medium as a means of networking to collaborate on constructive purposes, bikers are branching out to charities, spiritual encouragement on "Biker Sundays."

The Fosters enjoy the freedom of the open road. "It's a freedom to see the country," Robert said. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam.

Riding a bike is just one more way that the Fosters enjoy their freedoms. "You enjoy more; the feel and the smell when you are on a bike that you miss being closed up in a car. It's the freedom of it." Robert carries a fishing pole on his bike. "The bike experience is more in tune with the environment," he said.

The Fosters have been married for 26 years, maintaining their love of motorcycle riding throughout their marriage.

It's about function, not flash, for the Fosters. They have owned four bikes in 26 years, trading one out for the other.

"Wear one out and get another one. It's just a transport. We enjoy riding," Robert said.

The March of Dimes began in 1921, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio. After polio was eradicated years later, the March of Dimes took up the torch for research and education to prevent birth defects and infant mortality and to reduce the number of premature births throughout the United States.

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