The American Motorcyclist Association Board of Directors has announced the recipients of six national awards that recognize outstanding contributions to the world of motorcycling.
"The AMA Board of Directors is pleased to honor these six men and women who have done so much for motorcycling," said AMA Board of Directors Chairman Stan Simpson. "The world of motorcycling is in better shape and more fun because of the efforts of these individuals.
"We all owe them a sincere thanks, and these awards are our way to show that appreciation on a national level, and commemorate their accomplishments for this and future generations," Simpson said.
Motorcyclist rights activist Jerry Abboud was selected to receive the prestigious AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award for 2012. Other 2012 award recipients include: retired U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, AMA Bessie Stringfield Award; Bernie Bredbenner Jr., AMA Hazel Kolb Brighter Image Award; William Wollner, AMA Outstanding Road Rider Award; Jay Hall, AMA Outstanding Off-Road Rider Award; and Robert Althoff, Friend of the AMA Award.
The AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award acknowledges the highest level of service to the AMA in any area of activity. Named after its first recipient, a San Francisco motorcycle dealer and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer who embodied tireless and generous support of motorcycling, the award has been presented 48 times since its establishment in 1971. Abboud was hailed for his unwavering dedication to protecting the interests of motorcycle, ATV, personal watercraft and snowmobile riders and dealers against unfair regulations and laws, and proposing more equitable ones.
"The AMA Dud Perkins Award really caught me off balance," Abboud said. "Motorcycling advocates are rewarded by the success they enjoy, stopping the bad guys, and the friends they make. I never dreamed I would one day be the recipient of this prestigious award. I am truly honored that the AMA sees fit to make me a recipient. There is an incredible line of people that this award represents over the past 40 years, and to be a part of that is amazing."
The AMA Bessie Stringfield Award, first awarded in 2000, memorializes the accomplishments of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame member Bessie Stringfield, an African-American motorcycling pioneer of the mid-20th century. The award recognizes individuals who have introduced motorcycling to emerging markets. Until her recent retirement announcement, Rep. Giffords was the co-chair of the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus. As a rider for more than 20 years, and as a member of the U.S. House and the caucus, she worked with the AMA and the motorcycling community on a number of issues to protect and promote motorcycling. Arguably, Giffords is the most visible woman motorcyclist ever elected at the national level, and her embrace of motorcycling encouraged many other women to take up riding.
"This is a great honor from the AMA," said Gifford's husband, astronaut Mark E. Kelly, on her behalf. "Gabby and I have been motorcyclists for many years, and I can tell you that motorcycling, and motorcyclists, have been important in our lives. She has been able to inspire so many others to take up riding, particularly women."
Kelly added that Giffords is progressing in her recovery from the failed assassination attempt on her life in January 2011, and that the couple hope to ride together again one day in the future.
The AMA Hazel Kolb Brighter Image Award, established in 1987, honors an individual who has generated good publicity for motorcycling. Its namesake, Hazel Kolb, has been memorialized in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. In 1986, this year's recipient, Bernie Bredbenner, created a fundraising ride called the Motorcycle Miracle Tour. His goal for the ride was to raise funds to benefit pediatric services at Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa. The ride has persevered for 26 years, raising more than $1 million.
"This is quite an award. I never expected it, and it's an honor," Bredbenner said. "Hazel Kolb was quite a lady. She was quite a fan and supporter of the AMA, and it's an honor to receive [this] award.
"Charity rides just show such a positive image of motorcyclists," he continued. "To a lot of the non-riding public, giving back really impresses them with the generosity and the kindness of motorcyclists. Hopefully, they will remember that when they see a motorcyclist on the road and show him or her some courtesy, because quite often [they have] donated in some way to help the kids. I think the ride has touched the minds of the non-riding public, making them more aware of motorcyclists, and I think they've learned to respect motorcyclists more."
Presented 27 times since it was created in 1977, the AMA Outstanding Road Rider Award is given to an individual who has contributed to the promotion of the motorcycling lifestyle and the protection of on-highway motorcycling, and has consistently demonstrated leadership, hard work, and dedication to the AMA mission. AMA District 36 (Northern California) Director Wollner has been doing that for more than two decades. As a District 36 vice president and a three-time president of the Port Stockton MC, Wollner organizes 18 road events a year through the club.
"Receiving this recognition is something that I never dreamed about," Wollner said. "I'm just amazed that I would even be considered. I've always considered myself just an average AMA member.
"I've been working with District 36 for quite a few years, and it's one of those things that you have to get inspired about to persevere," he continued. "My inspiration starts with a gentleman who was my contact in the AMA, Joe Morgan. Joe instilled this need to keep this district together and make things interesting, promote safety and change the perception of motorcycling to safe and courteous."
New for 2012, the AMA Outstanding Off-Road Rider Award highlights the achievements of an individual who has contributed to the promotion of the motorcycling lifestyle and the protection of off-highway motorcycling, and has consistently demonstrated leadership, hard work, and dedication to the AMA mission. Hall, who runs Hall's Cycles in Springfield, Ill., has been making those contributions for dozens of years. This AMA Life Member is also an AMA off-road congressman, District 17 (Northern Illinois) hare scrambles director, former International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) racer and longtime ISDE team manager, mechanic and selection committee member.
"I'm a firm believer in participation in our sport," Hall said. "If we don't participate and help out with out sport, it will die. We have to be proactive about it. I eat, breathe, live and work with dirtbikes six days a week, and on the seventh day, we go racing. I've been doing it my whole life. My youngest son -- he's 15 now -- he wants to be a racer and motorcycle dealer like his dad. I'm very blessed.
"Also, going and helping the U.S. team at the Six Days has been a big honor for me, both as a participant and as a helper," he continued. "The Six Days is a pinnacle of an off-road racer's career. And if I can give them just a little bit of help or knowledge, maybe a little bit of inspiration, that they can do it, then that's great."
Presented periodically at the behest of the AMA Board of Directors, the Friend of the AMA Award recognizes individuals, companies or organizations in the motorcycling community that strongly support the AMA mission. Few have done that as consistently as Althoff, dealer principal of A.D. Farrow Co. Harley-Davidson, America's Oldest Harley Dealer with locations in Columbus, Sunbury and Pataskala, Ohio. Altoff's Columbus dealership is celebrating its 100th year selling Harley-Davidsons in 2012.
In addition to providing each owner of a Harley-Davidson as well as each student that takes a Riders Edge course an AMA membership, Althoff has been the driving force behind a number of strategic partnerships and key initiatives to promote the AMA mission, and grow the AMA membership ranks.
"Our vision is to grow and serve the motorcycling community," Althoff said. "Support of the AMA by every part of our industry -- O.E.M., dealers and riders is critical. When we present a paid AMA membership to our new bike buyers we say, 'This our gift, now it is your responsibility.' It is our firm belief that they will become lifetime AMA members as we are."
For more information about the AMA Awards Program, to see past recipients and learn how to nominate individuals for future consideration, click here.