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Bikers to unite Saturday for Nobles County charities

WORTHINGTON -- One look exchanged between a Worthington couple on a motorcycle during a charity bike ride last summer set the wheels in motion to make a positive difference in Nobles County.

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Brian Steffen waves as he and girlfriend Tina Johnson leave a recent motorcycle event at Solid Rock Church in Worthington. The couple will host the first-annual Back the Badge Bike Run on Saturday. (Special to The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - One look exchanged between a Worthington couple on a motorcycle during a charity bike ride last summer set the wheels in motion to make a positive difference in Nobles County.

Inspired by a shared desire to help area individuals in need, Brian Steffen and Tina Johnson will invite motorcyclists to kick start their bikes at noon Saturday before embarking together on an approximately 124-mile trek across the county during the first-ever Back the Badge Bike Run event.

“We’re looking forward to a great day and hope everyone comes out,” said Steffen, a Nobles County Sheriff’s Office deputy and co-organizer of the ride. The event’s proceeds will go to the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office Shop with a Cop and Manna Food Pantry.

Saturday’s charity ride will begin at the Prairie Justice Center north of Worthington. The route will give riders a scenic look at every corner of the county - with stops in Ellsworth, Bigelow and Rushmore - before ending at the Argonne Post 32 of Adrian’s Dawg Days of Summer event. The couple is excited the ride will not only cover much of the county, but provide patronage and awareness to some of the county’s remaining small establishments and communities.  

Johnson said thanks to a multitude of generous area businesses, the ride will include a poker chip and most bugs contests, 50/50 drawing, raffle prizes, prize drawings and a meal.

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“We have a large amount of prizes that will be randomly given away to the riders,” Johnson said.

Participants will also get the opportunity to meet the NCSO’s K-9, Boriz.

While the event will invite a community of bike enthusiasts to enjoy the open road together, it’s not the sole purpose.

Steffen said the Shop with a Cop initiative - which donated Christmas gifts and a shopping experience with NCSO members to county youths for the first time last December - is important to him.

“Anything with kids I really support,” said Steffen, who also shopped with a Nobles County youth last December.

Johnson said the decision to donate funds to the Shop with a Cop program was easy after reading an article in The Globe, which quoted Sheriff Kent Wilkening as saying that the office would like to make the program an annual event but was dependent on available donations.

The couple was quick to add support to the Manna Food Pantry, understanding that a need existed and the pantry is available exclusively to Nobles County residents.

Johnson said the generous hearts of area and regional businesses were on display as she worked to solicit donations for the new event. While some larger corporations are on the event’s donors list, Johnson said the smaller “ma and pa” businesses really stepped up to the plate.

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“Our smaller businesses have been the ones that surprised us,” Johnson said.

Johnson hopes the event will also bolster relationships between area community members and the law enforcement officers who serve them.

Steffen, a NCSO night-shift deputy since 2016, said it was of high importance that the ride focuses on Nobles County, as a way to show gratitude and give back to what he called “law enforcement supportive” communities.

“That’s what we do every day,” he said. “We work for the people within Nobles County, and it’s important to all of us that the money stays here.”

Both Steffen and Johnson hope Saturday’s event will kickstart annual interest in order to support county-wide initiatives in the future.

Bike Run registration begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Prairie Justice Center. Pre-registration will be accepted through Friday.

For more information or to pre-register, visit the Back the Badge Bike Run Facebook page or email backthebadgebikerun@gmail.com .

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