- September 19, 2021
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Sue Sitter/PCT Motorcyclists parade down Rugby’s Main Avenue in the 10th Annual Daryl Kuhnhenn Memorial Ride.
As participants met up at the Rugby Eagles for the 10th annual Daryl Kuhnhenn Memorial Ride the morning of Sept. 11, Kuhnhenn’s son, Ben, said he thought his dad would approve of the date.
“He was a Vietnam vet, commander of the American Legion and commander of the VFW when it was still in existence,” Kuhnhenn said of his father. “He did a lot of work with other veterans with PTSD. He brought the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to Rugby the year he passed away.”
Daryl Kuhnhenn, who established Daryl’s Refrigeration, was “one of those guys if you met him once, you’d never forget him. He always had a joke. He was the life of the party. He was always full of spirit,” according to Ben Kuhnhenn.
Daryl Kuhnhenn died the day after an accident that happened while doing one of the many things he enjoyed – riding his motorcycle. His surviving family and friends began a tradition the following year to honor Daryl for the many things he did for his community. The Daryl Kuhnhenn Memorial Ride has been going strong ever since.
Ben Kuhnhenn said the ride raises funds for charities in the community where Daryl grew his business and raised his family.
“Last year, we broke $120,000 in donations given,” Kuhnhenn said.
Kuhnhenn has a long list of charities that have benefitted from the ride. “We donate to fire departments, food pantries, we do scholarships. If you go on our Facebook page, there’s a list of where we donated to last year. We donate to the Lyric Theater; we donate to the museum, the fair. We do a lot. Probably 75 percent of our donations stay in Rugby and surrounding communities,” Kuhnhenn noted.
“The only causes we donate to far away are the veterans’ home and the veterans’ cemetery where my dad’s buried for upkeep,” Kuhnhenn added. “We give money to a place in Judd, North Dakota that trains dogs for veterans that have PTSD.”
Kuhnhenn said, “We donate according to what a charity needs. We give a little more to the fire department because they’re on a volunteer basis. They’re not (staffed by regular employees).
We give money to the (National American Legion) and local legion post here. My dad was in the Lions Club. He was in the racing association. He was in the hockey association. He was in everything.”
Participants pay a $25 fee for their motorcycle, classic or not-so-classic car to join the ride, which begins with a parade through downtown Rugby, then follows one of two different routes that alternate every year.
This year, according to Kuhnhenn, “After Rugby, we leave Willow City, go to Towner, Drake and then end up in Balta and back to Rugby. Every other year, we alternate routes. Last year, we went to Towner, Upham, Bottineau and Willow City.”
“We always went south before because where my dad’s accident was was on Highway 14. There’s a memorial cross there, so we stop there,” Kuhnhenn said.
Kuhnhenn said he hoped to see a large turnout for Patriot Day. “Our lowest years have had 200 (participants). We might have 300 to 400 people. I hope people will be trying to get out and show their patriotism.”
“As long as it keeps going this way, we’re going to keep doing it,” Kuhnhenn added. “I want to thank all the businesses who come out and support it and participate. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here. You can plan all day long, but if people don’t show, it doesn’t matter. To keep this going for ten years is great.”
“Hopefully, it’s not going to slow down,” Kuhnhenn said. “A lot of people never even knew my dad. They just come because it’s for a good cause and they know somebody who knew him and started coming on it and it’s nice to see all those people once a year and catch up.”
Derek Bush, chief of the Rugby Volunteer Fire Department, said he knew Daryl Kuhnhenn from the time he was young. “I grew up racing with Daryl,” Bush said. “We raced dirt track cars.”
Bush recalled when members of the Kuhnhenn family contacted the fire department about establishing the ride, “they asked us if we were interested in doing a breakfast or serving coffee and donuts for the riders, and we said, ‘yeah.’ Then, they wanted help with the parade going through town. We said, ‘Not a problem.’ So, we enjoy doing it,” Bush said. The ride always begins with trucks from the fire department as it winds through Rugby.
Bush said the department appreciates the donations from the ride. “It goes to training, things like that. Anything, really,” he said. “It’s a good thing.”
Bush said he thought most Rugby residents “are happy to see (the ride) in town. It’s a good way to remember Daryl.”
“He was a good guy,” Bush said of Kuhnhenn. “He’d do anything for you. He loved to joke and have fun. I don’t think he had too many enemies. He was always a good guy to be around. If you met Daryl once, you remembered him.”
The long list of local businesses sponsoring the ride includes: I Design; Rugby Clarence Larson American Legion Post #23; Hiway MVP; Kuhnhenn Red Angus; BPS Plumbing; Schmaltz Farm; Rugby Eagles Club; Balta Bar and Grill; Heart of America Medical Center; The Jeneral Store; Henry’s 90-Wt. Ribs and Brisket; Dog House Saloon; St. Michel Furniture; Rolla Dairy Queen; Heart of America Ag Services; Bremer Bank; J&J Market; Wade’s Construction; Hoffart Ranch; Daryl’s Refrigeration, LLC; Corey’s Rafter Bar; Kuhnhenn Trucking & Excavating, LLC; Dakota Spirits; Shooters Legion Riders MC Post 23; Bartsch Electric, LLC; Hoffarts Horse Shoeing; Main Street Boutique; Magnolia Wellness and Detox Spa; Dakota Farms; Daryl’s brothers and sister; Mattern Family Meats; Rockin’ Relics; Morris Lounge; Bulldog Honey Farms; Release Point Stretch Therapy; B&J Excavating, Inc.; Rugby Insurance Agency; First International Bank and Trust; La Bella Vita Salon; Harper Oil; PS Garage Doors; Cork ‘N Bottle; Rugby Auto Detailing Service; Magic City Harley-Davidson; Cow Country Supply; Dakota Eye Institute; Deb’s Concessions and Catering; NuLine Insurance; Hardware Hank; DK Service; Ramsey National Bank; Jason’s Super Foods; Merchant’s Bank; Rugby Broadcasters; Follman Farms; Gunter Honey; Align Chiropractic; Mike’s Body, Paint and Glass, Inc.; Highway 2 Collision Center; Niewoehner Funeral Home; Bore Line, LLC; Brossart Business and Tax Services; White Drug #50; Gooseneck Implement; Rugby Lumber; Northern Plains Electric Coop; Goldade Financial Servies; Mack Law Offices, P.C.; Lotvedt Lumber, Inc.; MJ McGuire Co.; Towner Plumbing and Heating; Otter Tail Power Company; Subway; Section 8 Bar and Grill; Gallows Motorcycle Club; Home of Economy; Bearded Moose; Salon Studio; Metigoshe Drive In; Titan Machinery; Larae Senechal Norwex; RHI Supply; Ryli’s Origami Owl; Little Angels Childcare.
Money collected from last year’s ride amounted to $12,000 and went to the following organizations: Rugby Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary, Rugby American Legion, Rugby High School Scholarships, TGU High School Scholarships, $1,000 each; North Dakota Veterans’ Home, Assistance Dogs for PTSD, Drake High School Scholarships, Towner Fire Department, $500 each; Good Samaritan Hospital Association Hospice, Rugby Music Boosters, Rugby Cancer Center gas cards, Pierce County Fair, Pierce County Food Pantry, $400 each; Farm Rescue, Drake Food Pantry, $300 each; Village Arts, Minot VA Vet Center, Prairie Grit Adaptive Sports, Bottineau Family Crisis Center, Willow City American Legion, Pierce County 4-H Shooting Sports, Rugby Community Endowment Fund, Drake Fire Department, $250 each; North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, Heart of America Public Library, Pierce County Senior Meals, Towner Senior Citizens Senior Meals, Bottineau Food Pantry, Prairie Village Museum, $200 each; Drake American Legion, $150; Heart of America Concert Series, $50; one night of sponsored open skating at the Al Wentz Arena, Rugby; sponsored/hosted A Knight for a Princess Dance in Rugby.
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