Nearly 60 men and women took to the streets of Audubon dressed in dapper attire and riding motorcycles in a local version of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride on May 21.
According to its website, the ride – held internationally on the same May date – originated in Sydney Australia in 2012, with 3,000 dressed up riders who sought to “positively represent the global motorcycling community.” The local ride was sponsored by the South Jersey-Audubon chapter of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.
The organization has grown from supporting prostate and testicular cancer research to including support for suicide prevention and men’s mental health programs. In 2016, it began a partnership with the Movember charity, best known for its Mustache Movember campaign when men grow their facial hair during the month of November for the same causes.
The South Jersey-Audubon branch of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride got its start in Haddonfield in 2017 and moved to Audubon as crowds grew. This year’s ride – when families and children who come to watch can also dress in classy attire – was organized by Moorestown resident David Burris, Westmont resident Jamison Dellis and Haddonfield resident Greg Dembs.
The event had the support of the Brown Dog Cafe and Red White Brew Beer Company in Audubon, Hardtop Garage in Pennsauken, Maurizio’s Bistro in Moorestown, and Ends of the Earth Cigar Shop in Haddonfield.
“The purpose of the ride, everyone’s all dappered up on these cool classic and modern-classic motorcycles, and the idea is to make a spectacle, so people ask, ‘What’s going on over there?’” Burris explained.
“The ride is typically limited to around 25 miles, and ideally, you’re riding on roads 25 to 40 miles per hour,’’ he added. “It’s not a race, more of a parade type of thing.”
Burris noted why the event was so important to him.
“I grew up riding four-wheelers and dirt bikes and that kind of fun stuff, and me and my brother enjoyed doing that together,” he recalled of his late brother, who committed suicide.
“He’s older than me; he rode motorcycles in college and after college, and when I graduated college, we picked out a motorcycle together for him,” Burris added. “I helped him shop for it and he wound up taking his life later that year.”
More than a decade later – after getting involved in 2018 – Burris still uses the motorcycle the brothers picked together for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.
“It’s pretty emotional, and it’s difficult for the people going through the mental-health issues and suicide,” he acknowledged. “Whether it’s attempts or it’s successful, and also for the survivors who are friends and family left in the wake of that (suicide), it’s difficult for everyone.”
Burris reflected on how mental health and suicide have been exacerbated by isolation during COVID, and when he speaks, he urges those who’ve lost a loved one to suicide to get help for themselves.
“If you’re someone who experienced a loss to suicide, it’s something you need to process and do in a healthy way, so it doesn’t potentially weigh you down,” Burris pointed out. “It’s not forgetting, it’s not letting go of someone, but it’s letting go of what you feel is your guilt or your responsibility.”
With 58 riders, the Audubon ride raised $20,135 for Movember; nationwide, $2.5 million was raised by 13,805 riders.
To learn more about the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, visit https://www.gentlemansride.com/.