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Whiskey Ditch Rally returns to Worthington

WORTHINGTON -- After growing increasingly complex for four years, the fifth Whiskey Ditch Motorcycle Rally wasn't going to happen at all this year until organizers re-evaluated and simplified their priorities.

"We just want to raise money (for charity), and we want to ride," said Mike Kuhle, the chairman of the Whiskey Ditch Motorcycle Rally. "And that's what we're going to do."

The event, scheduled for Saturday and renamed the Whiskey Ditch Motorcycle Ride for Cancer, has been streamlined and pared down to its most critical parts -- the motorcycle ride itself, which raises money for local cancer patients, and an Iowa pork chop feed at the Elks Lodge.

Registration for the ride begins at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, with the ride to start at 1 p.m. at the Elks Lodge in Worthington. The Iowa pork chop feed will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

"We had it (become) a two-day thing, with bands, food vendors ... it was quite a bit of work," Kuhle explained. "This year, it darn near died."

What really mattered to the committee, it turned out, was the motorcycle ride and the money the event raised, so members decided to keep those and cut away some of the festival's frills.

This year, all proceeds from the ride will be used to purchase gas cards for patients of the Southwest Minnesota Radiation Center who have to drive a long distance in order to be treated.

Last year, $350 of the ride's profits went toward the gas cards, which were greatly appreciated at the radiation center.

"People just really liked them," Kuhle explained. "We got a few thank-you cards from patients. So we thought, boy, that is what we're going to do -- make patients' lives a little simpler."

Patients come from all over the nine-county area for treatment at the radiation center, and the ride destinations will reflect that. Motorcyclists will ride through Cottonwood, Murray, Lyon and Jackson counties, stopping at community centers throughout the area served by the radiation center.

Because the event has been pared down, virtually every penny of the ride fees will go toward local cancer patients. Sponsors have taken on most of the other costs of the rally.

"Worthington has a history of supporting these kinds of activities that help people," said Kuhle, adding that he hopes the event will attract at least 150 riders.

Drivers of hot rods or ordinary cars are also invited to participate in the ride this year.