SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

July 11, 2013

Motorcyclist riding cross-country for a cause stops in Beverly

BEVERLY — Bob Burlison called his decision to buy a motorcycle about 10 years ago an “epiphany.” His wife used another description.

“She calls it a midlife crisis,” Burlison said.

Whether inspiration or desperation, Burlison’s determination to become a motorcycle rider ultimately brought him to Beverly this week as part of a charity ride that will take him to 48 states.

Burlison, a 60-year-old lawyer from La Cañada Flintridge, Calif., pulled up at the Cummings Center on his 700-pound BMW bike to attend the regular meeting of the Kiwanis Club at Acapulcos restaurant.

Burlison is more than halfway through a ride of more than 12,000 miles across the country and back — a ride he hopes will be recognized by the Guinness World Records. The ride is designed to raise awareness and money to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, a preventable disease that kills nearly 60,000 newborns a year, mainly due to inadequate immunization in developing countries.

“I decided I wanted to do something that had some significance to someone that wasn’t me,” Burlison said. “And I love motorcycle riding.”

The cause is a joint effort between Kiwanis International and UNICEF. Burlison, a member of his hometown Kiwanis Club, is traveling to clubs in 48 states, often staying for the night in the home of a fellow Kiwanian. The Kiwanis Club of Beverly has pledged $21,000 to the cause.

Burlison’s trip started on Memorial Day in La Cañada and has thus far gone through 27 states. According to a website devoted to the trip, his daily rides have ranged from a high of 462 miles (from St. George, Utah, to Rock Springs, Wyo.) to a low of 41 miles (Washington, D.C., to Baltimore).

In Kansas, Burlison was greeted by a cheering crowd of 90 people. He has been given motorcycle escorts into towns by various organizations, including the Rolling Thunder motorcycle group.

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