The blistering heat of another hot summer day was no match for a dedicated group of fans headed toward Lambeau Field on Friday afternoon, but the return of players and the opening of training camp was only an added backdrop to this group's cause for gathering at the home of the defending Super Bowl XLV champions.
More than 200 roaring motorcycles made their way to Lambeau Field for the eighth annual "Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer." After departing from Vandervest Harley-Davidson in Peshtigo, Wis., earlier that afternoon, the 300-plus riders arrived at Lambeau Field to join other members of the community at the post-ride tailgate party.
Both riders and non-riders gathered together to help support Parins' cause, raising money for families battling cancer.
"The Cruise" was created in 2003 by Packers Senior Security Advisor Jerry Parins. Trueto its tradition, "Cruise for Cancer is holding stronger than ever and remains special to a man who is all too familiar with the struggles of cancer. Diagnosed with cancer in 2003, Parins found strength through the support of his family and friends and met many families that also were dealing with the effects of the disease and its treatment. Throughout his battle, Parins knew he could make it a top priority to help other families dealing with the disease. Eight years later, "Cruise for Cancer" has helped raise more than $450,000 for the cause and continues to attract others to join in the support.
"I am just so humbled to see so many supporters out here today for the ride," Parins said. "And to have the Green Bay Packers open their facility to us for the tailgate party to raise some money is amazing."
The post-ride tailgate party had all the trimmings fit for a perfect gameday tailgate – which was rather timely, as fans were also psyched up for the much anticipated Packers training camp that opened the following day.
Riders, supporters and Packers fans attending the post-ride tailgate party enjoyed live music by a Wisconsin favorite, The "Love Monkeys," along with food, beverages and merchandise for purchase, as well as live and silent auctions.
Jack and Carol McMillan from Ashwaubenon were all smiles upon finishing their first ride Friday and were touched to see so many supporters.
"This was so much fun," Carol McMillan said. "This was our first year on the cruise and certainly won't be our last. It's amazing to see all the support from the community and see everyone have such a great time."
While Parins was more than happy to see everyone enjoy the ride and tailgate party, the true satisfaction came from knowing so many members of the community are there to help support the cause so dear to his heart.
"The community and riders have been amazing. Today we have four families riding who are battling cancer and to see the support from the community and the Packers is really heartwarming. If we can bring a smile to families battling the disease, then it is all worth it."