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Leather and Pipes ride to Lanesboro


Fri, Aug 30th, 2013
Posted in Lanesboro Features

Mike Fogarty and Julia Borgen hold the sign that welcomed the Leather and Pipes Rally to Lanesboro on August 17, 2013. Photo by Barb Jeffers

The Leather and Pipes Motorcycle Run visited Lanesboro, Minn., on August 17, 2013 during this year’s sixth Annual fundraiser for the event with riders raising money for cancer awareness and to help find a cure.

The Leather and Pipes Rally began when a very special person was taken from this earth by Lung Cancer. Mike Bell, who grew up in Pine Island, Minn., married a Lanesboro native Carolyn “Kayno” Borgen and the couple built a home in Oronoco, Minn.

Mike was a partner in Dimension Plumbing and Heating in Rochester, Minn., and loved to ride his motorcycle in his spare time. Mike also enjoyed hunting, fishing, and golfing. Mike’s Mother-in-law, Julia Borgen of Lanesboro, Minn., quickly comes to tears when speaking of Mike stating that Mike was a “very outgoing and friendly guy” and enjoyed spending time with friends and family including his wife and three children Devon, Renee, and Jake whom he loved very much.

Mike passed away on July 22, 2007 at the age of 50 after a 12 month battle with Mesothelioma. Following Mike’s death his lifelong friend, Mike Fogarty, knew he needed to do something in Mike’s memory and so began the Leather and Pipes Rally Against Cancer in 2008. “Pipes” relates to Mike Bell’s work with Dimension Plumbing and Heating and also the pipes on not only Mike’s motorcycle but the pipes of all of those who ride in his memory.

The Leather and Pipes Rally does not include only motorcycles however. Anyone who wants to participate is welcome whether it be on a motorcycle, in a car, on a bus, or anything else. Mike Fogarty explains that the Rally is not only to honor Mike Bell but anyone who has been lost to cancer or is battling cancer.

On the website for the Rally, www.leatherandpipes.com, it states “Our mission is to raise awareness and funding for cancer research to our local Eagles Cancer Telethon in Rochester, Minn.” They have certainly met that mission with a total of $70,000 raised and donated to the Eagles Cancer Telethon since 2008.

The ride grows bigger each year with 230 registered riders this year and “is probably one of the top four or five rides in Minnesota” states Mike Fogarty. The Rally is held each year on the third Saturday in August and rides a different route each year which ranges from 130 to 150 miles beginning at the Pine Island Sports Bar in Pine Island, Minn. making several stops along the way and then ending back at the Pine Island Sports Bar for dinner, a silent auction, live music and plenty of fun which Mike would have loved. Raffle tickets were also sold at this year’s Rally which were very popular and helped to boost the total donation amount. Registered participants of the Rally receive a Leather and Pipes T-shirt to commemorate the ride.

Some of the towns included in this year’s Leather and Pipes Run were Rollingstone, Lanesboro, and Oronoco among others. Mike Fogarty and Julia Borgen stated that they were welcomed to Lanesboro by a large sign on the Highway 250 bridge as the riders got close to town which was placed there by the Lanesboro Fire Department who did an amazing job hosting the group while in town and fed the participants burgers, beans, chips, and all the trimmings as well as making a donation to the cause. Next year’s route has not yet been decided but will surely be an even larger ride.

Mike Fogarty is quick to point out that he does not organize this large event alone saying that it could not happen each year without a lot of help from his wife, Norma, Greg and Sherry Johnson, and countless friends and family including Mike Bell’s four sisters and two brothers.

The Rally could also not happen or raise the money for cancer research without its corporate sponsors, who all are listed on the website, and without donations from generous people.

The love of family and friends and the passion for riding motorcycles that Mike Bell experienced in his lifetime continue in his honor by the Leather and Pipes Rally which may help to cure cancer someday and save another family from losing a loved one too soon. To make a donation to the Leather and Pipes Rally Against Cancer or to obtain information about the 2014 ride contact Mike Fogarty at (507) 356-4599.

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