2004 Sportster with less than 150 miles donated back nearly 20 years after first won

Alicia Van Bergen, a retired educator in the Gilbert Community School District, is chuckling into her phone as she thinks back to that fateful night nearly 20 years ago. There’s exasperation in her voice as she recounts the tale of the night she became the grand-prize winner, even though she would have been happier to see the shiny object go to someone else.

The scene: The Gilbert Education Foundation Annual Event.

The year: 2004.

The coveted prize: A 2004 Harley-Davidson Sportster.

The motorcycle — shiny and brand new — placed in the raffle that year came courtesy of Steve Risdal, one of the foundation’s founding members and a Gilbert community member. For months the previous fall, various people rode the bike around town to drum up interest in the raffle and the response at the Annual Event was vast.

And — wouldn’t you know it? — the raffle winner was someone who had no interest in getting on it. Ever.

Yep, it was Alicia Van Bergen.

“I don’t win a bingo game. Nothing!” Alicia says with a laugh. “So wouldn’t you know they pulled my name out. I just about died because I’m scared to death of motorcycles!”

If it was up to Alicia, the bike would have been donated back to the GEF immediately. The problem was her husband, Jim, got a twinkle in his eye and his excitement grew at the prospect of owning the bike. And so he took classes on how to ride and bought himself all of the accessories — a leather jacket, helmet, gloves … the works.

“He was all ready to ride the Harley,” Alicia says. “He went up and down the street a couple of times and thought he was ready to do this.”

One extended trip from the Van Bergen residence to Jim’s work quickly changed his mind though.

“He came back home and said I’m never doing that again,” Alicia says, again with a chuckle. “He did not feel comfortable. He rides 4-wheelers, but that motorcycle just wasn’t his thing.”

Again, that was nearly 20 years ago. Since then, the pristine bike has lived a sheltered live inside the Van Bergen garage. It’s been tuned up multiple times, and Alicia says there were opportunities to sell it over the years, but Jim insisted they hold onto it.

Until this year.

At Alicia’s urging, Jim relented and agreed to gift the motorcycle — it has a whopping 110 miles on it — back to the GEF so that it could be raffled off once again at the upcoming Annual Event.

“It still looks brand new and this younger generation will really like it,” Alicia says.

Thanks to the generous donation of the Van Bergen family, the 2004 Harley-Davidson Sportster is the raffle prize at this year’s Annual Event, as we all celebrate the 30th year of the GEF. The Annual Event is scheduled for Saturday, April 1, at the CPMI Event Center in Ames.

Austin Woodin, president of the GEF, is elated the generous gift has come back to the organization and community, and he thanks the Van Bergen family for thinking of the GEF, school district, and community.

“What I really like about it is the impact it can have a second time around,” he says. “It had a huge impact before my time on creating excitement and awareness for the Annual Event, and it raised a lot of money. And it’s kind of a priceless bike. That (the Van Bergen family) is willing to give it back to the foundation so that it can have that impact all over again is pretty special.”

Raffle tickets and banquet tickets to the Annual Event can be purchased online (HERE). Raffle tickets will also be available for purchase at the Annual Event, either singularly or in packs of five.

“The foundation is amazing,” Alicia says. “Gilbert was one of the very first schools to have a foundation.”

The Annual Event will kick off a 4:30 p.m. with registration on April 1. Below is the schedule of events:

•4:30 p.m. — Doors open/registration
•5:00 p.m. — Gala games and live music
•6:00 p.m. — Dinner and dessert auction
•7:00 p.m. — Live auction and gala games
•8:30 p.m. — Brian Congdon: Music by request

“I’m so excited for the upcoming Annual Event and this year is special because we’re celebrating 30 years of the GEF,” Gilbert Superintendent Dr. Christine Trujillo says. “We are so lucky to have such tradition in our community and a group so dedicated to our school. GEF provides opportunities that we otherwise would not be able to do for our students through things like field trips, mini grants, and special projects, and the Annual Event highlights the great things GEF does for our school.”