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Family, friends and Motorcycles
by Garrett Valenzuela - gvalenzuela@dailysparkstribune.com
Jul 20, 2012 | 5793 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne
Kim Knupp of Yamaha Motor Corp. stands in front of showcase motorcycles during Yamaha’s demonstration ride event Thursday afternoon.
Tribune/John Byrne Kim Knupp of Yamaha Motor Corp. stands in front of showcase motorcycles during Yamaha’s demonstration ride event Thursday afternoon.
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SPARKS — STAR Touring and Riding Association is more than the congregation of motorcycle enthusiasts--it is a family. Their annual STAR Days event flooded John Ascuaga’s Nugget this week with motorcycles, vendors and members of the international organization.

The rides and seminars were only a small part of STAR Days, which functions more as a family reunion. Alan Cease, president and founder of STAR, said forming the organization and its morals was easy once he had been in a couple different motorcycle groups.

“I wanted to form something that included everybody in the family, including the children,” he said. “There is nothing better than having grandpa drive up on his big motorcycle and having his granddaughter stand there with a STAR patch on her knowing she is going for a ride.”

Cease, who traveled from Tucson, Ariz., said STAR has attracted most of its members because it operates much differently than most motorcycle organizations. While pushing the family aspect, STAR dissociates from intoxicated riding and offers their members different facets and perks unique to their organization.

“It’s a different type of organization. We really do take care of each other and it is not a hard organization to get into,” he said. “Once you are brought in and understand our philosophies and mission statements, that is how we live our lives every day with or without the colors on.”

STAR offers segments of the group such as STAR Vets, a commemoration of those who served their country; the Tin Star badge honors those who are first responders in firefighting, law enforcement and Emergency Medical Team personell; STAR Kids and STAR Teens is comprised of members who join at a young age; Ladies of the STAR is reserved for female members who are interested in motorcycles.

Ginger Cease, Corporate Finance Officer of STAR, said the seminars and events being offered during the event will benefit all members because of their variety. She said some seminars centered on chapter growth and management, multimedia use and riding gear comfort modifications will help bring the members together for their common interest.

“We have had a lot of people stop by and want to know more about our organization. Everyone is having a great time and loving the area,” she said adding that more than 300 bikes rode in a parade for Feed the Children, the official charity of STAR and Yamaha Star Motorcycles.

“All year long our chapters do charity rides and events so they can bring Feed the Children trucks to their community,” she said. “This year we have brought in 15 trucks around the U.S. and plan to have 12 more before the end of the year.”

Ginger and Alan both agreed that choosing Feed the Children as their main charity was an easy choice because they allow them to keep their donations in the United States and feed hungry Americans. STAR has donated about $1.2 million in cash donations to Feed the Children making them a top five contributor to the charity, according to Alan.

While STAR Days is filled with several rides and small events, many people made their way to the Yamaha Star Motorcycles tent to test out Yamaha’s line of sport and cruiser bikes. Kim Knupp, National Events Manager for Yamaha, said they travel the United States with their motorcycles allowing prospective buyers a chance to test their products.

“(The demonstrations) allows them to ride the whole line of Yamaha motorcycles and ride in a safe environment,” Knupp said. “We have people who ride on bikes infront and behind them and have corporate staff on site to answer technical and service questions.”

Knupp said the rides allowed customers to use a variety of speeds, from parking lot to freeway speeds, in order to get a feel for the motorcycles. She said safety was of the utmost importance in the duration of STAR Days.

“Customers must have a motorcycle license, a DOT approved helmet, sleeves, long pants and eye protection in order to go out on the demo ride,” she said adding that her Yamaha crew follows STAR Touring and Riding Association around the country as their corporate sponsor and they have become the go-to company for STAR members.

STAR’s reputation for bringing a safe, inviting and family oriented environment to each city they visit was evident before they arrived in Reno as the Nugget waived their “no colors” policy for STAR Days.

“The no colors policy was waived because of who we are and how we operate. They were open to it when they saw who we were,” Alan said adding that STAR patches and T-shirts could be seen throughout the casino floor.

The proof of STAR’s commitment to their members lies in their STAR Family Foundation, a fund setup to aid members of STAR and their families who have catastrophes in their lives. For instance, a young member who was prone to seizures because of his diabetes was given a certified dog to help warn his parents when his blood sugar fell to dangerous levels. Alan said he has not had a seizure since the STAR Family Foundation gave them funds for the dog.

“Members have come to us and say things like ‘you saved my life’ or ‘you saved my marriage,’ Ginger said. “When people come into STAR they build friendships for life and that is a big part of this organization.”
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Family, friends and Motorcycles by Garrett Valenzuela - gvalenzuela@dailysparkstribune.com


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