Several hundred bikers and Packers players and staff members gathered for the third-annual 'Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer,' Saturday.
A motorcycle ride to benefit cancer patients and families throughout Northeastern Wisconsin, the turnout for the event left Parins, the Green Bay Packers' director of corporate security who himself has battled cancer, virtually speechless.
"I don't really know what to say, I'm just really in awe by everything that's going on today," Parins said. "The first couple of years that we did this I was really still undergoing treatment...this is the healthiest that I've been since my journey started.
"I'm so excited to see what's happening with this ride and it's very special for me and all of the people that helped me coordinate this event. There are so many great people that work with me all the time and I don't know how to thank them."
Parins, a motorcycle enthusiast from an early age, coordinated the first-annual 'Cruise' just 16 months after being diagnosed with cancer. The 120-mile motorcycle ride raises money for various cancer-related organizations, many of which he encountered during his treatment at St. Vincent's Hospital in Green Bay.
In addition to the many Packers players in attendance, Parins also invited three cancer patients -- Elizabeth Smith (9), Andrew Dorner (18) and Nick Nesvacil (30) -- and Minnesota Vikings mascot Ragnar, whom he has come to know from the Packers' games at Minnesota, to be his guests of honor.
"I know looking back that I used to hate this guy when we would go to the Metrodome," Parins said of the Vikings' burly, Harley-riding mascot. "But once we finally talked and shared with each other our passion for motorcycles and then our passion for helping other people, I realized that we could touch a lot of lives by working together, despite our team loyalties. He's just a great guy and I thank him for riding with us.
"And to have these three strong individuals and their families here with me today is such a special blessing."
Sponsored by the Green Bay Packers, Vandervest Harley-Davidson and Vandervest Custom Cycles, the ride took motorcyclists on scenic Northeastern Wisconsin roads from Lambeau Field to Vandervest Harley-Davidson in Peshtigo, Wis. There, riders were able to enjoy food, beverages, live music and a 50/50 raffle before returning to Lambeau Field for more food, beverages, music and a live auction.
"We're so lucky that this ride can have a starting point such as Lambeau Field," Parins said. "I can't thank Bob Harlan, John Jones and the Green Bay Packers enough. They're just awesome. They supported me through my whole journey and for them to help us with this is just great."
"This is the third year that we've done this event and it gets bigger and more popular every year," Harlan said. "I talked to a gentleman who drove his motorcycle from North Carolina to be here and participate. So we just want to say 'thank you' to all the folks for their time, their effort and their caring. We love Jerry Parins -- he's made a remarkable comeback from his battle with cancer -- and we love the folks that are here taking the time to share the day with Jerry."
Added Parins: "I can tell you one thing that all cancer patients talk about as they begin their journey. You tell everybody to live every day the best you can. And that's what this is all about."
For more information about the 'Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer' please visit www.cruiseforcancer.org