BY KIM CLEMENTS JOHNSON
“Harley riders” are often perceived as tattooed, ZZ Top-bearded brutes with babes hanging off the backs of their motorcycles. If not threatening, their tough exterior at least conveys a sense of foreboding. These perceptions, though, are usually wrong.
“Some Harley customers carry that stereotypical big bad biker look, but inside they are good, generous people,” says Jeff Stevens, co-owner with his wife, Carol, of Harley-Davidson (H-D) of Bloomington. “Our customers are actually quite diverse. We serve men and women from all walks of life—professionals, teachers, students, tradesmen, truckers, retirees—and people from teenagers to 80-plus years old.” Customers at the local Harley dealership form a community of their own, Stevens says, and most are committed to helping those in need.
When the Stevenses opened the dealership 13 years ago, they were Harley riders deter-mined to run a successful business and be actively involved in the community. Since then, they’ve helped raise tens of thousands of dollars annually for nonprofits and charitable causes, including Miracle Ride, an organization that raises money for Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Through the generosity of bikers, the dealership has contributed more than $500,000 to the group.
“The motorcycle community is especially generous, and riding for causes is so prevalent,” says Stevens. “Motorcycle riders are a very giving group of people.”
On weekends, H-D of Bloomington makes its onsite food-vending trailer available to organizations such as Special Olympics. The dealership on West Gourley Pike (indianaharley.com) purchases all food and drinks; volunteers for the nonprofits lend their time for a few hours and leave with 100 percent of the proceeds.
The dealership also holds a fish fry benefitting an area volunteer fire department; supports Shop with a Cop, 4-H, and Little League teams; and helps with the fundraising efforts of numerous schools, churches, and youth organizations. Its local Harley Owners Group and Ladies of Harley chapters support causes like Toys for Tots, Middle Way House, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, animal shelters, and food pantries.
“We feel very fortunate to be in a position to give back to the community and do charitable things,” Stevens says. “There are so many needy groups out there, and things have been tough, especially in last few years, so it’s nice to give back and, hopefully, make a difference.”