Cape Town – Thousands of riders turned out on Sunday at the Killarney International Raceway for the Sunflower Fund’s annual Ride 4 Hope, in support of the South African Bone Marrow Registry, an NGO dedicated to finding matches for patients suffering from leukaemia and similar blood diseases who need life-saving stem cell transplants.

The aim of the Fund is to increase the number of registered donors on file with the SA Bone Marrow Registry to 400 000, representing as diverse as possible a cross-section of the South African population.

But there’s a catch; neither the Registry nor the Fund receives any government funding, and it now costs R2500 to tissue type test the blood samples of each new prospective donor at the required molecular DNA level.

Thus, the more successful the Fund becomes in raising public awareness of life-threatening blood diseases and recruiting donors, the more vital its fund-raising efforts become.

Hence the Ride 4 Hope, and similar events around the country, bringing bikers together for a mass ride and a rip-roaring party, with lots of loud music, a shave-a-thon and plenty of stalls selling food, drink and memorabilia – with the proceeds going towards tissue type testing of potential donors. 

The variety of machines was astonishing - from big cruisers to sleek sports-bikes, lightweight commuters and even a few classic two-strokes – and their riders were just as diverse, but they were all their with a common cause: to have a good time in a good cause.

They egged each other on to have their shaved, or coloured, in solidarity with chemotherapy patients whose hair tends to fall out – and to pay for the privilege – and to sign up as donors.

But it was the sheer number of riders who filled the circuit at the start of the mass ride that drove home the point: This is a big deal. It’s not about making a statement; it’s about saving lives.