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La Crosse’s Big Bikes for Little Tikes rides for 9-year-old Emerson Smalls on Saturday



Emerson Smalls and her chocolate lab Remi. Smalls, a West Salem Elementary Student, is the hero for the 2023 Big Bikes for Little Tikes charity ride.

It’s been going on for 27 years — helping a child in need in sort of a “make a wish” fashion.

La Crosse’s Big Bikes for Little Tikes rides this year for 9-year-old Emerson Smalls, a West Salem Elementary School student, who has a rare genetic disorder.

Usually, Big Bikes — which sees 300-500 motorcyclists take the charity ride through the Coulee Region — looks to raise funds so the child can go on a great vacation or meet someone they look up to.

: 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20
WHERE: Start — Onalaska Harley Davidson; Finish — Onalaska American Legion
WHY: Fundraiser for 9-year-old Emerson Small

This year, however, Big Bikes rides to help the Smalls family purchase a piece of medical equipment that will keep Emerson safe at night.

“One of the things that would be really helpful with Emerson is a piece of medical equipment that their insurance just doesn’t cover, and it’s incredibly expensive,” Puck said. “It’s not something that the family would be able to just go out and buy at any point, so that’s what we’re doing with big bikes for Little Tikes this year.”

At some point over these past 27 years, Puck, who’s been part of Big Bikes since the beginning, well, he had a kid, and the charity ride took on a little bit different perspective.

“Especially as a parent, that’s something that you think about,” Puck said on La Crosse Talk PM this week. “It’s like, if we were ever in a situation like this, we would hope that people around us and our friends and community would be able to step up and give us a hand.

And that’s the thing, their family has got a wonderful support system, sometimes that’s not enough. So, that’s where we can step in, and where everybody as a community can step in, and help out.”

Emerson, who loves camping, swimming and Johnny Cash, has a rare genetic disorder that affects her vision, hearing and mobility. It also evolved into a severe form of epilepsy. Emerson’s Mom (Kristen) is a registered Nurse and Dad (Ty) works as a Tire Service Technician at TSS and is a volunteer firefighter.

Saturday’s year’s Big Bikes fundraiser and ride will happen beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, leaving from Great River Harley Davidson on Oak Forest Dr. in Onalaska. Participants will wind through the Coulee Region, finishing up at the Onalaska American Legion. There, free brats from Bubba’s Meats and beverages, after the ride concludes, plus a chance to win some cool prizes from sponsors.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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