A ride with a reason

Bob Burlison is about to go on the ride of his life.

The 60-year-old La Cañada Flintridge lawyer will take off on his motorcycle next month, trekking more than 15,000 miles around the nation. He plans to stop in every state except Hawaii and Alaska — those he will visit via a web camera.

When completed, the journey could break a current Guinness World Record for the longest motorcycle ride in the same country. But Burlison also has a stronger, philanthropic reason for leaving his life behind for nearly three months.

He is a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada-AM, which is a chapter of an international organization dedicated to supporting children and needy communities. The Kiwanis Unity Ride to Eliminate (KURE) project will support the Eliminate Project, an international effort by Kiwanis and UNICEF to defeat maternal and neonatal tetanus. Thousands of children in developing countries — and some mothers — die from the disease every year.

"This seemed like a pretty good excuse to take a little ride," said Burlison. "I hope it will strengthen the Kiwanis name and unite everyone across the nation."

Burlison will depart on Memorial Day around noon. His ride is a new BMW bike. His high-tech helmet includes a Bluetooth device, a navigation system and a hook-up for a MP3 player. He will wear a jumpsuit, which he hopes to decorate with a symbol from each state.

Along the route, he will visit Kiwanis clubs in 48 states. He will communicate with members from Alaska and Hawaii via a web camera to save travel time and expenses. His first stop is Scottsdale, Ariz., where he will visit a club comprised mainly of fellow bikers.

They will ride with him to his next destination, Las Vegas. He expects at least a few bikers will join him between each city. And he welcomes anyone to join him on his ride out of La Cañada Flintridge on May 27.

"Motorcyclists are always looking for an excuse to ride," he said. "You put a ride up and all of a sudden, you get a thing going."

Burlison originally became interested in the project because it affected children, he said. But to get people to notice, he wanted to do something unusual. Burlison said the ride is personally dedicated to his father, who passed away in March.

Tom Petersmeyer, the president of the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada-AM, said he's happy that many volunteers have stepped up to host Burlison and support the project.

"This is probably the best thing our club has done in many years," he said.

Part of the project includes a raffle in which one person will receive a BMW motorcycle or $10,000, its value in cash. Burlison said he hopes to sell 2,000 raffle tickets.

Burlison is scheduled to be home by Labor Day.

"It's an active project that the group has gotten behind and I'm really thrilled with it," said Burlison. "I just hope nobody runs me over."


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.

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