By Sheila R. McAfee

The organizers of two annual bike rides are confident that by combining events their efforts to help others will have a more far-reaching effect.

The Andy Ross Charity Motorcycle Ride and the Edge Memorial Ride are now known as the Edge-Ross Ride, which is scheduled to set out from Elizabeth Park at noon June 16.

The focus of the event is to raise money for the Trenton Firefighters Charities, and cancer-related programs at Oakwood Southshore Medical Center in Trenton and Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.

Lead by a police escort, riders will follow a 45-mile route to Milan Dragway, where they will take a short break before heading back to Woodhaven for an afterparty at Gorno Mazda, 21111 Allen Road.  Sibley Gardens will be preparing the meal for the evening festivities.

“We approached the Trenton fire fighters about the possibility of joining forces, and we all agreed that combining the two rides would give everybody more bang for the buck,” said Cindy Czarnik, executive vice president of Gorno Automotive Group.

The Ross ride was started in 2001 by the Trenton Fire Fighters Charities, and according to fire engineer paramedic Tom Funtsch, had been declining in numbers over the last few years.

He said there was still an average of 300 riders, half of them with passengers, taking part. The Edge ride began in 2010 and was attracting an average of 100 riders. The combined total of monies raised by the rides was more than $475,000.

“By sharing the costs, sponsorships and manpower, we hope to save some money up front and hopefully raise more for the causes,” said Funtsch, who represents the Trenton Fire Fighters Charities as co-chairman with Czarnik and Ed Jolliffe, president of Gorno Automotive Group.

Trenton fire fighters held its ride in honor of their comrade, Andy Ross, who died in 2000 as a result of a motorcycle accident. The Fire Department’s charity arm is designed to assist Trenton residents in crisis for a variety of reasons, Funtsch said.

The Edge ride was started to honor Edwin Jolliffe and George Gorno Sr., business partners who died of cancer within days of each other in December 2009. Jolliffe received care at Oakwood Southshore and Gorno received care at Henry Ford Wyandotte.

Funtsch said one of the highlights of the ride is the support of onlookers along the route.  Fire departments from various communities have been known to park a fire truck and raise its ladder in remembrance of Ross. After riders leave Milan, the route includes passage through two metroparks, to the delight of picnickers, Funtsch said.

“They line the roadway when we ride through the parks,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Registration will be accepted through race day, said Czarnik, noting that bikers will gather at the shelter building within Elizabeth Park beginning at 10 a.m.

The fee is $40 for one rider and $65 for a rider with passenger. The price includes T-shirts and lapel pins, and admittance to the party.

Non-riders are welcome to join in the festivities at Gorno Mazda at 4 p.m. Tickets are $40.

In addition to dinner, the evening party features music and the raffle of a 2012 Harley Davidson Screamin’ Eagle Street Glide, donated by the Jolliffe family. Tickets for the bike raffle are $10 apiece or 11 for $100.

For more information, call Gorno at (734) 676-2200 or visit www.edge-memorialride.com

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