The 17th Annual Hawgs for Dogs
All Harley-Davidson Benefit Motorcycle Run
Saturday, July 8th and Sunday, July 9th, 2006

By Tony Kennedy
for Cycle Crossroads Motorcycle Magazine

Steve and Gracie Cohan have been staging the two-day Minnesota Hawgs for Dogs run for so long and with such precision that it rarely sputters. The 17th annual running of the Hawgs on July 8-9 was no exception, except to say there were some sputters and several hoots when road leader Vince Bazzachini stripped off his T-shirt and squeezed into a ridiculous leather halter top!

Vince's stunt during the event's signature after-dinner program was a major crowd-pleaser. And it proved once again that the Cohan's and their many friends and volunteers will suffer any amount of embarrassment to raise dollars for Guide Dogs of America (GDA), a non-profit provider of trained guide dogs for the blind. Over the years, the Minnesota Chapter of GDA has raised well over $1.2 million and the Cohan's recently were named full-time outreach directors for the national organization.

This year's Hawgs for Dogs run left the Twin Cities Harley-Davidson North dealership in Blaine, MN, with 59 Harley-Davidsons and 109 people -- fewer than usual. (A mechanics' strike and other job cuts at Northwest Airlines, where a core group of Hawgs for Dogs regulars are employed, was an obvious drag on attendance for a run that has drawn as many as 98 bikes.) Still, when all was said and done, the event raised an impressive $65,700.

The 400-mile, all-Harley run followed an eastern route into northern Wisconsin, ending at Telemark Lodge near Cable, WI, a locale best known during the winter months as Midwestern ski country. Every few years, staff members for the run choose a new destination.

En route to Cable, during the first hours of the trip, riders occasionally were sprinkled by rain. Skies cleared, however, by the time they snaked through a picturesque resort region dotted with forested lakes. That particular stretch of the ride was capped by a lunch stop in a cheerful and amply-staffed saloon at Stone Lake, WI.

Steve Cohan has longed dreamed of organizing Hawgs for Dogs runs in every state of the union. Now, as an outreach director for GDA, he's more dedicated than ever to that goal. If the new runs follow the original in form, they will be highlighted by a sit-down dinner, immediately followed by speeches, tributes, clowning, raffling, practical jokes and a lengthy live auction.

At this year's auction, the craziest bidding was between two friends who wanted the same leather shirt. When the dust settled, the shirt went for more than $500, or about $300 more than what a thick leather coat sold for in a subsequent round of the auction.

As emcee, Cohan announced that Tim Poncin won the competition for oldest Harley on the run, a 1967 FL Shovel Head. Cohan also awarded special gifts to Ron and Elva Huss, for being Top Dog Team fundraisers -- $3,970. Gary Bredehoft was named single Top Dog for his contribution of $2,585.

As a special treat, the crowd heard from GDA dog trainer Yvonne Martin, who flew all the way from California to attend. Martin said she expected to bring a trained dog on the run, but airline managers blocked the animal from boarding the plane at the last minute.

Continue on to see all the pictures...

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