Vail Valley Motorcycle Foundation makes it annual Backpacks & Books ride to Avon Elementary

Bob Tutag, of the Vail Valley Motorcycle Foundation, shows a couple of Avon Elementary School students his motorcycle's radio on Thursday. Since 2003, the motorcycle group has been raising money to buy backpacks, school supplies and even breakfast for young students.
Anthony Thornton | |

The Vail Valley Motorcycle Foundation is meals on the coolest wheels ever.

The local motorcycle group made its annual pilgrimage Thursday to Avon Elementary School to deliver backpacks and school supplies, roaring into the parking lot to the delight of dozens of kindergarteners and first-graders. As the kids waited for the bikers to arrive, they sang “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” because they were.

Bob Schmidt has been part of this program almost since the first wheel turned. The group helps provide school supplies, backpacks and breakfast to some local elementary schools.

The Vail Valley Motorcycle Foundation hosts parties and fundraisers, and sell things like tickets to the Masters or trips to Costa Rica. The buyers can go wherever they want, but the money stays home.

“It’s the kids. It’s all about the kids,” Schmidt said.

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The bikers started as the Cordillera Motorcycle Association in 1999. A few years ago as the bikers were playing golf and riding motorcycles, they started coming up with ways to give something back to their community, said Laura Foster, the Vail Valley Motorcycle Foundation’s director of operations.

They launched a foundation in 2003 and started raising money with the goal of giving it all away. They’ve helped more than 50 local charities, but focus largely on local kids.

In 2003, they began donating school supplies and backpacks to local public school kids.


One day, they were meeting with teachers and principals, who thanked them profusely for the school supplies but explained that what kids really needed was breakfast.

The motorcycle club grabbed the task by the handlebars. They help provide 40,000 breakfasts each year for kids in several local schools.

Avon Elementary School turned some of its grant money into equipment and supplies the school needed to land a federal grant to provide hot breakfast for every kid in every classroom.

“Kids can’t learn when they’re hungry. We think this makes a difference,” Schmidt said.

The families appreciated it so much that they hosted a huge thank-you potluck party every year to recognize the Vail Valley Motorcycle Foundation.


Along with backpacks and breakfast, the foundation’s Ride for Success program provides textbooks for qualifying HERO scholars at Colorado Mountain College.

Once in a while, local kids receive scholarships, but they can’t complete the course work because they can’t afford the textbooks. But the foundation has changed all that by quietly picking up the tab for about $100,000 worth of books for CMC students.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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