Bikers work to improve lives, local community

CASTLETON - You never know who's out there working quietly behind the scenes to make Vermont-and Rutland County-a better place to live.

For several years now, the Southwest Freedom Riders club has worked without much fanfare to help make a positive mark on Rutland County. That's why we tip our hat to this local group of civic-minded bikers, a group that loves the freedom of the open road as much as they do the true spirit of America.

Here's an example-

SWFR held its annual Christmas Party last Dec. 5 and turned it into an opportunity to help local disadvantaged kids in need of some extra tender loving care during the holidays. SWFR invited members and party guests to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to the Rutland County Women's Network Shelter. According to Rose Anne Van Lew, SWFR's publicity coordinator, and women's shelter officials, the party was a big success.

"Traditionally, along with the toys, the decorations for the party-including the tree and all its trimmings-were gifted as well. Raffles and a silent auction produced hundreds of dollars in cash for the donation," Van Lew said. "The following week, the new slate of officers-installed at the Christmas party-delivered all the donations (to the shelter)."

The club's new slate of officers include President Charlie Van Lew, Vice-President Ronny Broadwell, Secretary Lisa LaFountain, Treasurer Jean Carrara, and Monty Springer as sergeant-at-arms.

Van Lew noted that the Southwest Freedom Riders is an organization dedicated to motorcycle safety, education, and community involvement.

"Basically, we are a bunch of bikers who like to raise money for charities and have fun doing it. While most of our events take place during the riding season, the first two fundraisers are already under way," she said.

Van Lew said the motorcycle club's annual Rekindle the Romance Raffle gets underway this month. Members will be selling raffle tickets around the community.

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