"There was no reason that my dad and I couldn't do something that we enjoy and help someone else at the same time, all with a little help from our friends."
These words are from Clara Barton fifth-grader Haley Dellaneva, who always has possessed a special compassion for helping others.
Haley had the privilege of that compassion paying off big time on Sunday, June 10, raising thousands of dollars for a personal cause near and dear to her - ensuring milk for students in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo elementary schools who would otherwise go without - all thanks to the first annual Haley's Milk Run.
Haley came up with the idea last winter, when a request was made via the school milk sheets for contributions to help cover the expense of morning milk for fellow students without the resources to pay for their own.
That struck a big chord with 10-year-old Haley.
"The monthly charge for milk is $8. I wanted every kid in my school to be able to drink milk every day. So I went home and asked my dad if I could use my allowance and he said he had a better idea: 'Let's have a milk run and recruit motorcycles to help raise the money.'"
Coming from an active motorcycle family, the concept appealed to Haley, who had accompanied her dad, Paul, and mom, Brenda, on several charity rides. "Every year her dad and I have done Toys for Tots, and ever since Haley was old enough she has participated," Brenda noted. "She has always been such a caring and thoughtful girl and so willing to help others who can't help themselves."
Unhampered by unpredictable weather conditions that didn't dampen spirits, approximately 70 motorcycle riders and several vehicles turned out for what Brenda described as an "awesome" show of support for the "come-rain-or-shine" event.
The Milk Run began with registration at Indian Triumph in Fargo, and the ride departure at the Harwood Hideout, followed by stops at Halstad, Ada-Borup and Georgetown before ending up at the Teamsters in Fargo.
"Every stop we had food, door prizes, and a lot of fun," Brenda said.
Haley rode on the motorcycle with her dad, a pastime she does quite often and enjoys. She sat out one leg of the ride because she thought it was going to rain but instead just sprinkled, only to be poured on later when she rejoined her dad. She laughed about the experience .
"It was really cold, but I had a great time. To be able to raise money, help kids and greet people was just so much fun," she said.
As an added bonus that also benfitted the Milk run, Haley also had her picture taken on Saturday with Jax from the popular television show "Sons of Anarchy" who was appearing at the grand opening of Sickie's Garage, a new business in The Hub. Ever promoting her Milk Run, Haley took along two of the posters, got them personally signed by Jax, auctioned one off at the Teamsters following the run, and kept the other for herself which she intends to frame.
Another added high point of the actual run was the fact Haley's principal Tanya Lingle was in attendance, joining her father on his Harley. Lingle said it was great to be part of the occasion and that she was impressed by Haley's actions. "At Clara Barton-Hawthorne we believe in caring hearts and helping hands. Haley showed that by coming up with the idea and wanting to give back to students in need."
Lingle also commended Haley's parents "for really put together a great event. It was well thought out and they put a lot of time and effort into making it the right fun for those involved. I heard a lot of comments from those attending saying more kids need to come up with ideas like that."
Regarding more ideas, Haley is already looking ahead to next year saying there will definitely be a repeat but maybe with just a little bit different twist. The date has already been set with the Teamsters for June 15. "We are going to do this again," Haley said proudly, "but Jasmine, a friend of mine, wants to include donations for breakfast and lunch along with the milk run next time."
Haley said she is most appreciative to everyone who supported her cause and helped make the first event so successful.
Her mom agreed. "It was overwhelming. The first year of doing something like this for the elementary schools, it was stunning to see how people were just so willing to say 'hey this is something really needed for all these kids that go without milk.' All the door prizes and donations were phenomenal. It was just amazing how many people came out and helped, and the Teamsters were totally excellent donating $1000 to the cause, as were all the other generous sponsors offering ongoing support."
Haley's overall goal was to raise $10,000. Her dad said Monday afternoon that a little over $8,000 was raised at the Sunday ride with donations still being accepted indefinitely at the West Fargo Choice Financial location, at 210 Sheyenne St., West Fargo, in an effort to reach the $10,000 mark.
Proceeds from the ride will be divided among the local elementary schools and distributed at the start of the new school year in the fall.
Haley's dad also offered up final kudos. "So many people stepped up to make this happen including Uncle Rick and Uncle Robbie (close family friends). Without our friends we wouldn't have been able to do this, including those who donated prizes, the road guards who helped and everybody else who pitched in at any point along the way. We had people on the ride we have been friends with a long time and many that we didn't even know from as far away as Forman and Hunter. Considering the weather, that says a lot about the caliber of people that rode on our ride Sunday. It was a great bunch and a whole lot of fun."