MOOSEHEART – TV star Erik Estrada of “CHiPS” fame paid a visit to Mooseheart Child City & School near Batavia last weekend to participate in the 10th annual Blessing of the Bikes event and help raise a record amount of money.
Estrada, who is known for his role as Ponch in the 1970s TV series “CHiPS,” led more than 350 motorcycles through Mooseheart’s campus Saturday for a tour that traditionally follows the blessing. Mooseheart spokesman Darryl Mellema said the tour is a lot like a parade because Mooseheart students usually line the streets and wave as motorcycles pass by.
Mellema said this year’s Blessing of the Bikes, which he said is a prayer for a safe motorcycle riding season, also acts as a fundraiser for Moose Charities and Special Olympics. He said while donations still are being added up, the event helped raise more than $27,000 – a record amount.
Mellema said Estrada has been a Moose member for six years and supports a number of children’s organizations, including the Safe Surfin’ Foundation, an organization that works to raise awareness about child sexual predators, with an emphasis on staying safe online.
Mellema said Estrada was on Mooseheart’s campus in 2009 for homecoming, when Mooseheart officials presented him a check for the Safe Surfin’ Foundation.
“We’re talking tears,” Mellema said about the 2009 visit. “I know he’s an actor, but those were real tears.”
He said Estrada also rides motorcycles and has spoken at several Moose organization conventions throughout the years. Mellema said 420 people attended Saturday’s Blessing of the Bikes event.
“He’s there trying to do the good work of the fraternity, just like any other Moose member,” Mellema said. “The things he feels strongly about are things the fraternity feels strongly about.”