Annual Ride Janie Ride motorcycle event supports families affected by cancer

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Don't be surprised if you see 1,000 motorcycles driving through the western suburbs Sunday. The ride from St. Charles to Shorewood will be helping cancer survivors.

Their motto is, "We ride to provide." This is the 10th anniversary of the Ride Janie Ride motorcycle event. It's a 50-mile ride benefitting families affected by cancer.

"In 2005, I was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I'd lost my job and things were adding up. Emotionally, Brandon and I had just gotten married in 2003 and so then to get hit with something like this in 2005, it was a big blow," said Janie Bawel, the first Ride Janie Ride recipient.

"What we wanted to try to do was organize a motorcycle benefit because we were all motorcycle enthusiasts. We thought, 'Hey, what the heck? Let's give it a shot and see what we can do and how much money we can raise to help them out,'" said Luke Pennings, director of the Ride Janie Ride Foundation.

That first ride was a huge success, with 500 motorcycles, raising $50,000.

"The lightbulb went off with Brandon and Jane. What it did for them emotionally was overwhelming to them. So they approached me, probably three or four weeks after the event and said, 'Hey, we want to try and do this event again. Are you willing to help us?'" Penning said.

Each year, families are nominated on the website and recipients are chosen by the foundation.

ABC7 met up with two of this year's recipients, 14-year-old Sara Bragiel and her 17-year-old brother, Matt. Both were diagnosed with lymphoma within a year of each other.

"It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. When your children are little, they fall off the bike, you pick them up. With this, you're completely helpless," said Dwayne Bragiel, Matt and Sara's father.

"It's been a rough year, something I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy," said Kathy Brageil, Matt and Sara's mother.

Matt and Sara are both currently in remission. They are grateful for the support of the Ride Janie Ride members.

"It feels good that someone's there who know what I'm going through," Matt said.

"It was a big relief! They were super nice to us, still are. It's just mind blowing how nice they are," Sara said.

You can support Ride Janie Ride, even if you don't ride a motorcycle, by cheering them on along the parade or by attending the end-of-route party.

"Everybody's got a favorite holiday. Mine is the first Sunday in May!" Bawel said.

To date, Ride Janie Ride has helped more than 33 families. They are a 100 percent volunteer organization. All monies raised go to the recipient families.

For more information, visit or the Ride Janie Ride Foundation's Facebook page.
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