Bikini Rally riders were ‘Freezin’ for a reason’

Mar 3, 2020

BATAVIA — Snowmobile? Check. Helmet? Check. And bikinis?

A total of 19 riders braved 18-degree temperatures and a biting wind Saturday for the sixth annual Genesee County Sno Packers Bikini Rally. Their machines snarled as the participants — male and female — raced around a snowy course at the Genesee County Fairgrounds.

The cold ride in swimwear wasn’t just for spectacle, with the event raising more than $14,420 to help people battling cancer.

“We race for a reason,” said Theresa Osborn of Oakfield, one of the event’s two coordinators. “We want to raise as much money was we can for the Pink Fund, which is a different organization nobody usually thinks of.

“Normally you think about research and this isn’t about research,” she continued. “This is about real help now. It goes to the families for non-medical expenses — their utilities, their car, their mortgage, child care, groceries, you name it. It’s all those finances they never get to pay because they’re paying all their medical bills first. It really helps them stay out of debt.”

Osborn knows the battle personally. Her mother, grandmother and aunt have all passed away from some kind of cancer.

“Half of the problem is their brain is thinking ‘How can I provide for my family when the money’s not coming in?’” she said. “So this is a great way of being able to provide that. Their bill’s being paid for, so their heart and mind is prepared for everything they need to tackle.”

That’s why the riders gather annually for the event that also features raffles, vintage snowmobile displays and more.

Elaina Marie of Batavia was the other coordinator.

“We do it for many reasons,” she said. “A lot of it is personal reasons. Our family and friends have been affected by breast cancer. My grandmother was diagnosed at age 75, but now she’s cancer-free and she’s 85, so everybody has motives to go out there and go freezin’ for a reason.”

And it’s fun besides. The event attracts a group of participants from across Western New York.

How were Saturday’s temperatures shaping up?

They were cold, but not the coldest in which the participants had ridden.

“The second year we ran, we were in the negatives, so it’s not uncommon for us to deal with it,” Osborn said. “We’ve been kind of spoiled the last few years with the mud and the above normal temperatures in Western New York, so this year — wow. But we’ve got a lot of great support and a lot of heaters going, and we’re just hoping everybody comes out to enjoy themselves.

As far as the riding? she said it’s kind of like a polar plunge.

“We aren’t submerging ourselves in the cold, like deep cold. A lot of time our adrenaline’s going and we don’t really feel the cold until afterward. In between the rides is when we really feel the cold.”

Check the Bikini Rally page on Facebook for more information.

By Matt Surtel, The Batavia Daily News