‘Hellbender Hootenanny’ raises thousands for local students

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

Ninety-three bikers can make a lot of noise. They can also raise a lot of money for a good cause. 

Earlier this month, Michael Moore organized the Hellbender Hootenanny as a benefit for local students who cannot afford to buy a cap and gown for graduation. 

“There’s a lot of nontraditional living situations,” explains Michael. “Most kids live with a family member or in foster care, and they’re on a fixed income.” 

So Michael spread the word among his biker buddies, and they came together for a “dice run” that raised $1,750 for students at Richwood High School and another $1,750 for students at Nicholas County High School to pay for caps and gowns. 

What is a dice run? Similar to a poker run, bikers ride a fun road route together. Along the way, they stop at certain checkpoints to roll dice. The results are tabulated at the final location and the winner receives a payout. 

“This was the state’s largest dice run,” says Michael. “Biggest payout, biggest number of participants.” 

The Hellbender Hootenanny stretched over two nights in early June at two locations. Nite Phix played live music at Richwood while the Amos Steel Company played at the Summersville lighthouse. Then on Saturday morning, all participants registered at the Richwood Moose Lodge. In total, 93 bikes registered. Riders began the dice run and then met back up for a night of fun beginning at 5pm at the lighthouse. By the end of the night, they raised enough to donate $3,500 for caps and gowns for new graduates. 

Michael Moore speaks to riders at the Hellbender Hootenanny in Nicholas County, WV. It is the state’s largest dice run. Photo by Peggy Smith.

Michael Moore is no stranger to the world of tourism and biking. He organized The WV Hellbender, a 132-mile motorsports loop with 1,300+ curves on public roads. It produces an economic impact on the region of more than $1.5 million annually from spending by bikers, not to mention their charitable contributions. 

“The whole idea,” he says, “is to give people a reason to speed time and money here with local businesses. It’s going really well.” 

Mark your calendars now for next year’s Hellbender Hootenanny, which will occur July 7-9, 2024.

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