CORNING – Saturday, March 20 was the first day of spring and the Corning Eagle Riders celebrated by making plans for Christmas. Santa Claus was nowhere to be found in the crowd of 400-plus ATV riders who paid $15 a head to participate in the 54-mile ride through Perry, Hocking, and Morgan counties, but even without him, the air on that Corning morning was nothing short of festive.
The Corning Eagle Riders host two of these events a year in order to bring Christmas to local residents who cannot afford to buy gifts. Last year 89 children received $100 each and 28 families received $50 gift certificates to purchase Christmas meals.
The president of the Corning Eagle Riders is Jim Love. On Saturday he manned the grill that pumped out hot breakfast sandwiches as quickly as the hungry crowd could grab them. Assisting him with the outdoor kitchen duties was the vice-president of the organization, Jackie Love.
However, the whole dining experience hinged on the efforts of 8-year-old Cash Love, who was solely in charge of delivery.
“You’re looking at state champion wrestler when he gets to high school,” proclaimed Jim Love with only a slight twinge of grandfatherly pride.
As an eyewitness to the scene, this reporter can attest that no breakfast sandwich ever arrived as quickly as the one Cash placed in my hand before I even placed the order.
“Our goal is to help 100 kids have Christmas,” explained Jim Love in between flipping sausage patties. He added the while adults paid $15 apiece to participate in the event, kids rode free.
Many of the riders were local residents, but participants from Philo, Mt. Vernon, Utica. Columbus, and Cleveland were also on hand for the ride that started on state Route 155.
“We have riders from Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Washington,” yelled Jim above the roar of the next heat of ATVs beginning their run.
Tow vehicles were parked everywhere in Corning that didn’t block an intersection. While every outdoor pursuit has its followers, none can match the enthusiasm of ATV riders. Maybe it was the great weather or it could have been the joy of what life was like in pre-COVID-19 days. Whatever motivated the ATV crowd, the Corning Eagle Riders provided a day of fun that was obviously appreciated by everyone at this fundraiser.
Once the ride concluded, the Eagles had gallons of chili, hundreds of hot dogs, and plenty of other goodies waiting for the riders.
“We’ll do one of these rides in the fall, too,” said Jim Love.
One of the volunteers who wished to go unnamed spoke about those who benefitted from the fundraising efforts.
“You know what most of the kids bought with their $100? They wanted new shoes and boots,” said the volunteer. “The people being so grateful makes it worth it for us to do this.”
Hats off to the Corning Eagle Riders for providing a great day of fun at a time when that kind of stuff is in short supply. More importantly, thank you for providing a tremendous lesson on taking care of our own. Thanks to your efforts, Merry Christmas in the Corning corner of the county starts in March.