Storytelling for Giving: The Why Behind MotorcycleTalks
“Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.” ― Anonymous
For attorney Jason Plotkin, it’s a soulful sacrifice, a labor of love, a way to change hearts and minds, and a big part of his mission: to give back and at the same time, to enjoy the ride of life.
So when Jason started noticing the charitable work being done by bikers, he knew he had found his desire, to focus on a niche truly enriching the lives of others. All it takes is one idea – throw a pebble in the ocean, make a wave, or in this case, shift an idea about motorcyclists into high gear.
“The way the US and the world are right now is so fractured,” says Jason. “It’s all so opinionated and polarized. I started to meet a lot of motorcycle riders who are very charitable. Most are blind to color or politics, they just care. So I wanted to share their stories and change any stereotypes out there about bikers.”
Jason, who participates and orchestrates a number of charitable efforts, says he used to see motorcyclist Chuck Ritz a great deal out in the community and at the 9-11 rides. Each September, Chuck places flags along Putty Hill Avenue in Parkville, one for every person who lost his or her life in 9-11. “I was so impressed by the work Chuck did so selflessly,” says Jason. “And I knew more people needed to know how charitable motorcycle riders really are.”
“As an attorney handling personal injury cases I have witnessed first-hand the issues motorcyclists go through after an accident, not just physical, but their challenges navigating an insurance claim and the legal system. It really clicked for me when I was representing a rider who had been injured. I said to myself I should tie in what I’ve learned from handling this case and the good deeds I see so many riders doing and create a community force for good.”
The first story for MotorcycleTalks was about Chuck and his efforts to give back, including his Hope and Peace Foundation, which has raised thousands to support a myriad of causes, most prominently two rides: one raises funds to give hope to those facing the pain of child abuse, the other ride is to remember all those connected to the 9/11 attacks. (https://www.motorcycletalks.com/stories-chuck-ritz).
Chuck’s story helped launch the Motorcycle Talks website back in October of 2018 and the idea has taken on a life of its own.
“Other people think it’s so amazing,” says Jason. “The stories are so well-received in the motorcycle community. The riders are happy to be represented so favorably and are thrilled we are changing the stereotypes of riders out there. Just because some have long hair and tattoos or feel the need for speed doesn’t matter, they are human just like everyone else.”
The one thing you can’t always see, or others fail to recognize when they see a biker come up alongside them, is the heart of that rider. So many motorcyclists have huge hearts and want to funnel their passion that comes from the freedom and joy of the ride, to help others less fortunate.
Just like Len Elliott, the focus of the second MotorcycleTalks website story. Len became a Mason and a Shriner and helps lead the Boumi Motor Corp, dedicated to those Shriners who enjoy fellowship and the open road. The Motor Corp does incredible work in raising awareness and funds for children in need. (https://www.motorcycletalks.com/stories-len-elliott)
The Motorcycle Talks website and stories align perfectly with Jason Plotkin’s mission of serving and enriching the community in general. Jason, CEO of the Pinder Plotkin Legal team, has won award after award representing causes and philanthropic organizations, especially in Baltimore County. Jason serves on the Board for the Parkville Carney Business Association, the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools, Inc. and the YMCA Parkville/Perry Hall Community Advisory Board.
“The Motorcycle Talks website and stories is just another way for me to give back and not have it take away from my family time,” says Jason. “Like many of the other charity events I participate in, I take my girls, 6-year-old Hailey and 4-year-old Chloe and my wife along as much as possible. I’m always looking for opportunities to do more than one thing at a time, but still, be present as a husband and father.”
Jason continues: “I’m expecting to launch my next book next month, this one on motorcycle safety, as another way to give back. My goal is to have the books printed, and then donate them to motorcycle organizations and dealers to resell the books and give a portion of the proceeds, or all of the proceeds, to the charities we tell stories about.”
One of the biggest charities in recent years was the Ride Across Maryland, featuring former WJZ-TV personality, Dick Gelfman. Gelfman was more than happy to share his story with Motorcycle Talks – describing his life-long love affair with motorcycles, as well as the story of The Ride, from its early beginnings, to where it is today, as the group looks to attract a younger demographic and relaunch The Ride, hopefully as early as next year. (https://www.motorcycletalks.com/stories-dick-gelfman)
Then there was the story of Wayne Hoffman, enjoying the ride of his life, as the Huffy the Clown. Now that he’s retired, Wayne’s mission in life is participating in a ton of motorcycle events, especially the charity events, creating fun and “talk-about” balloons, helping to relieve others of their troubles by helping them smile, and a nicely crafted balloon can do just that. (https://www.motorcycletalks.com/stories-wayne-hoffman)
Relief also can be serious business. One of the stories that Jason Plotkin says, “blew me away”, was that of the Motorcycle Relief Project, (https://www.motorcycletalks.com/motorcycle-relief-project). The story featured an interview with Mike Bobbit, the operations manager for MRP and a first-hand description of the impact of the Relief Project from Richard, a veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but who found the Motorcycle Relief Project and has seen his life turn around because of his experience with MRP.
Louie Isenberg, another motorcycle enthusiast with quite a tale to tell, shared his story with MotorcycleTalks back in March of this year. Back in 2014, Louie suffered life-threatening injuries in an accident where he was hit by a car. But for Louie, it became all about the comeback and giving back. Viewing what he saw as an injustice in his area schools when it came to free lunches and those who did or did not qualify, Louie came up with the idea of the Lugnut Lunch Program, named after the business where he services bikes, the Lugnut Custom Service Station, in Stonesboro, Pennsylvania. Louie is living proof that motorcyclists are always looking for a way to play a part in improving the lives of others, (https://www.motorcycletalks.com/louie-isenberg).
Jason says he was especially fond of the story about Maryland Delegate Kathy Szeliga. “Kathy is the all-American woman,” says Jason. “She’s like every other person out there, but she picked up a love for bikes as a child and never let go of it. No matter how successful she has been she never forgets that passion and is now advocating for riders all across Maryland.” (https://www.motorcycletalks.com/kathy-szeliga)
Then there’s the most recent story, of Cyndi Brandt, President of the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Motorcycle Rally. The MAWMR was started with a vision of creating a community, but also as a fundraiser in support of women who face breast cancer. Over the years, the rally has evolved to assist any woman with any challenge surrounding any cancer. “Cyndi’s rally has become a force for women in the motorcycle community,” says Jason. “It’s so amazing. Before we did the story I couldn’t believe we had never heard about it… I mean how could we not know about it? It’s helping people in all walks of life.” (https://www.motorcycletalks.com/cyndi-brandt)
Jason says he wants to see the MotorcycleTalks stories take on a life of their own. Right now he is self-funding the website (and utilizing yours truly to write the stories), but in the near future, he would like to see it become fully funded through donations or sponsorships. “I’m fully funding this project right now,” says Jason, “because I want to get it off the ground so others can benefit. There is too much negative news out there, I wanted to build a website to share positive stories. The motorcyclists do amazing work in terms of giving back to the community and to charitable organizations and everyone should know about it.”
It’s just another cause close to Jason’s heart because he loves to give. Between his passion for living a bigger purpose and the motorcycle community’s burning desire to serve the community and the less fortunate, it’s now all about synergy and significance.
MotorcycleTalks is ready and waiting to share your story. Let’s give everyone something to talk about.
This story as well as all of the others on our website are written by Mark Brodinsky, an Emmy-Award winning television producer, speaker, popular blogger, and published author. You can find more information about Mark on his website at http://markbrodinsky.life/