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Wendy Reuer, Published September 11 2012

Area Christian biker groups looking forward to movie 'Last Ounce of Courage'

FARGO – A group of Fatboys, Road Glides and Rebel motorcycles roll by, the riders dressed in black from head to toe.

The scene may look menacing, but underneath the black leather, skull caps and steel-toe boots is sometimes a Bible, a cross or simply a heart of gold.

Many bike clubs are formed as Christian riding groups or as family clubs with a mission of community helpfulness.

On Friday, during a special showing of the movie “Last Ounce of Courage,” about 200 motorcyclists are expected to arrive at West Acres Cinema to support one of their own.

The movie – about a family dealing with the loss of a Gulf War veteran and the meaning of Christmas – was developed by Richard and Gina Headrick, founders of Hellfighters Motorcycle Ministry, an international Christian motorcycle club.

The movie is showing in only 1,200 theaters across the nation and will play at the Fargo theater for at least two weeks, said Rick Solarski, West Acres Cinema general manager.

Solarski said he was surprised to learn there is such a powerful following of Christian motorcycle groups.

“It’s kind of unique. I thought I was well-informed; I didn’t know there was such a thing as a Christian motorcycle gang,” Solarski said.

Beth Zitzow and her husband, Jim, of Fargo, are members of Hellfighters, and worked with Solarski to prepare parking for the expected riders coming to see the show on Friday.

“Hellfighters is a group of Christian men and women who love God and want people to know about that,” Zitzow said. “You don’t have to ride a motorcycle to be a Hellfighter, but we gear our ministry more towards the motorcycle group and population. We don’t drink, we don’t smoke, we don’t cuss and we spread the love of Christ.”

Even though bikers may still get a bad rap, reminiscent of outlaw gangs that made crime headlines in the past, bike clubs today are more often family clubs, including the majority that exist in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

F-M Crusader Bob “Thumper” Gregor admits the stereotype of bad-boy bikers is still alive and well.

“We run across that a lot. It’s getting a little better,” Gregor said. “Some days it’s tough when you want to put on a motorcycle run or something. It’s hard to get through to some people that what we do isn’t all bad. It’s an eye awakener for some people.”

The F-M Crusaders – the largest bike club in the metro area – considers itself a “family club,” but according to Gregor, local divisions of national Christian clubs such as Hellfighters and Christian Motorcycle Association (CMA) often work in collaboration with the Crusaders.

“If you need help, they will help you with pretty much anything,” Gregor said.

“Most bikers do not fit into the hard-core roughhousing image. In fact, most bikers have a love of riding because they ride safely and responsibly and object to any type of lawless behavior,” said Moorhead Councilwoman Nancy Otto.

Otto, a biker herself, helped organize Moorhead’s first Bike Night this year with more than 200 bikes and motorcycle enthusiasts attending.

Most F-M Crusaders events and motorcycle runs are organized as fundraisers for individuals or charities such as the “61 for 61” event, a fundraising event in honor of Roger Maris and cancer research.

“Every run that is put on doesn’t benefit the organization, it benefits a charity of some sort,” Gregor said.

Many Fargo-Moorhead clubs have formed as outreach ministries through churches such as Bethel Riders, a Bethel Church group formed for motorcycle-loving members.

The Fargo Chapter of New Life Riders, a chapter of CMA, has about 40 members, said Mike Smith, vice president.

Zitzow said at least three other Hellfighters are based in the metro area.

Hellfighters attend the annual Sturgis (S.D.) Motorcycle Rally each year, where they assist fellow bikers in need whether it be mechanical assistance or emergency shelter or detox for a night.

“If you talk to people who have been to Sturgis more than once and you mention Hellfighters and the Mission at the Cross, they’ll tell you they know about it,” Zitzow said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

If you go

What: “Last Ounce of Courage”

When: First showing is 7 p.m. Friday; the movie will remain in Fargo theaters for at least two weeks

Where: West Acres Cinema, 4101 17th Ave. S., Fargo