A Celebration of Life
The Daryl Kuhnhenn Memorial Ride is entering its fourth year with no signs of letting up. The event is publicized as a motorcycle and classic car ride honoring the memory of an area veteran and business owner, but all those who knew Daryl know it is far more than that.
When speaking with his son, Ben Kuhnhenn, you realize this event is a celebration of life. This is a celebration of a special man who through the years has touched more lives than anyone could ever imagine. This is a celebration of a man who never said no to someone in need. This is a celebration of a man who experienced the pains of war, but found the inner strength to be the rock that someone could lean on. This is a celebration of a man that those in need would call at 2:00 a.m. because they knew he would always answer that call.
You can point to many reasons why this Memorial Ride exists, but those things were just a part of who he was. For Ben Kuhnhenn, the ride is so important because Daryl was a friend, a mentor, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a shield to protect him, a beacon of light to illuminate his path into manhood. To Ben, Daryl was simply “dad”, and he is missed by all those he touched.
This year’s Daryl Kuhnhenn Memorial Ride takes place Saturday, Sept. 12, with registration and breakfast at 9:30 a.m. at the Rugby Eagles Aerie. Starting at 11 a.m., the ride will leave the Eagles and travel down Main Avenue in Rugby. It will then make stops in Willow City, Towner, Drake, Martin and Balta before coming back to Rugby for supper at the Memorial Hall.
According to Ben, the ride started in September 2012, one year after Daryl’s death, at 62 years of age, from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. He was involved in several community organizations including the American Legion post in Rugby – in which he also served as a commander, the racing association, the Lions Club and the hockey association. For many years he owned and operated Daryl’s Refrigeration.
“Daryl loved this community and surrounding communities, as he was from the Towner area and resided in Rugby most of his adult life,” Ben said.
From February 1968 to September 1969, Daryl served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
In addition to being a tribute, the ride also serves as a fundraiser for community organizations. Last year’s ride – which had over 200 bikes and about 40 cars – raised $13,000. Of that total, the Clarence Larson American Legion Post No. 23 received $2,500; the Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary received $1,500; the Pierce County Fair received $1,000; the Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club received $700; the Lyric Theater received $700; Project Joy, a Lions Club Christmas project, received $500; the Pierce County Food Pantry received $400; the Rugby Amateur Hockey Association received $500; Towner Youth Baseball received $300; the Heart of America Library received $400; and $1,000 in scholarship monies went out to Rugby and TGU Towner high schools.
“We would love to see the ride get bigger and better every year and raise more and more,” Ben said. “The more we raise, the more we give back to the community. Which is what the ride is all about, as we are honoring Daryl.”
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