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F&J Racing postpones Blessing of the Bikes

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Blessing of the Bikes planning committee members Steve Moody, Jackie Ingraham, Connie Hoskins and Thomas Reynolds decided to postpone the annual event.

Saturday was supposed to be the date of one of the long-standing charitable events held in Marshall County.

However, much like many events planned to be held during the ever-changing world of COVID-19, the risks were too high. 

The decision was made to postpone the Blessing of the Bikes – which originally had been planned for May – due to a desire not to contribute to the spread of the virus, said Tom Reynolds, a member of the planning committee for the event along with Connie Hoskins, Steven Moody and police liaison Tricia Thein.

Moody has been with the event since day one, also serving as the announcer for the festivities. The event is hosted by Fred and Jackie Ingraham, the owners of F&J Racing, a bike maintenance and repair shop at 701 N Third Ave. 

The event began 25 years ago, with the organizers wanting to give back to Marshalltown and Marshall County communities. It started with two barrels for food and clothes for the Salvation Army but has since grown into one of the bigger charity events in Marshalltown. 

Reynolds said it was difficult not to have the event.

“We truly did want to be able to have the event,” Reynolds said. 

Hoskins said the group attempted three times to schedule and hold the event – but they were not able to find a way for it to be safe enough, and they did not want to put the people they were raising money to help at more risk by attending a large gathering. 

Hoskins said the event has given to a number of charities over the years, including (but not limited to):

• Marshalltown Dog Park

• Animal Rescue League

• a safe house in Marshall County for those who are escaping from domestic abuse

• Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Marshall County. 

It’s not a money-making operation for the Ingrahams, Hoskins said.

“Fred and Jackie for years have done this, and they don’t make any money off of it,” Hoskins said. “They’ve put money into it. They do this to help people who need it.”

Reynolds said one of the newer parts of the event is money for a Marshalltown Police Department fund to help homeless people get a place to sleep when they are picked up by police officers in the wintertime. He said that previously it would be up to the officers to pay out-of-pocket and they wanted to change that. 

With the cancelation of the 2020 event, the attention within the organizing group now turns to 2021.

The planning usually takes around three to four months, Hoskins said. 

Jackie, Reynolds and Hoskins said there is an intention to hold it at least one more time to celebrate Jackie and Fred’s commitment to their business and the community.

Jackie’s impact on the event has been massive, Thein said. She said honoring Jackie is “hugely important.”

“It is time-consuming and difficult,” Thein said of planning the event. “She has done a fantastic job for so many years.”

Reynolds said the event is “winding down” a little bit, and there are discussions about whether to continue it or to have another interested party continue the tradition of giving. 

“Fred and Jackie have thought about the future,” Reynolds said. “We’ve enjoyed doing what we’ve done. We do want to do it [in 2021] so Jackie has 25 years. They think it might be time to pass the torch.”

The eventual passing of the torch comes as the group makes it clear that it is not only bikers who come to the event. There have been many efforts made to make the Blessing of the Bikes even more family-friendly, Hoskins said, and there is a priest present during the event. 

Hoskins said the groups wants to go as big as they can with the Blessing next year.

“We want to do it as big as we can to help the community,” Hoskins said. “It’s not just for bikers. It’s for everybody.”

Contact Noah Rohlfing at 641-753-6611 or nrohlfing@timesrepublican.com.

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