Missouri National Guardsman wins Crazy Horse custom chopper
Missouri National Guardsman Bryan Crabtree was on a break from summer training in the Black Hills when he walked into the Crazy Horse Memorial visitor Welcome Center and spied the custom motorcycle called “Commitment.”
He was immediately smitten, but he also liked the cream and red looks of the 2003 Indian Chief Roadmaster parked next to the chopper. Both bikes are prizes in successive yearly raffle fundraisers for the nonprofit Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.
What was he to do?
“I really like the design of the chopper, but I like the other one too. I figured the money was going to a good cause, so I bought two tickets that day,” Crabtree said in a phone interview from his rural Pineville home in Missouri’s southwest corner.
His $20 mid-June impulse – ticket No. 01230 – paid off on Sept. 6. Crabtree won the chopper, valued at $32,000. Now he is waiting for the Roadmaster’s drawing on Sept. 6, 2011, to learn if he’s lucky twice.
Meanwhile, he faces training beyond his part-time citizen solder duties. “I don’t know how to ride a bike,” the 38-year-old Crabtree said. “I’m going to have to start learning how.”
Finding leisure time for bike riding might be another challenge for the single dad with two children, both high school freshmen. In addition to being a Guard cook for the 294th Engineers at Anderson, and soon for the 203rd Engineers at Joplin, Crabtree works nights at his local Wal-Mart.
Memorial president and chief executive Ruth Ziolkowski and foundation director Bill Turner of Naples, Fla., drew the winning ticket before nearly 100 wishful onlookers gathered around the bike. It will remain under the Welcome Center’s spotlights until collected by the winner; Crabtree has 30 days to claim his prize.
“Commitment” is the creation and gift of Eric Gorges, the founder and owner of Voodoo Choppers in Clinton Township, Michigan. Inspired during a 2008 visit to the Memorial, he melded metal and mechanics into an artful, aerodynamic masterpiece that he said honors the grit and determination of the Memorial’s founding sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski.
“Bryan called me so we had a brief chance to talk. What a great guy. I was very happy he won the bike,” Gorges said in an e-mail. “Happy to hear that Crazy Horse was able to raise some funds, especially in these times. It was my pleasure to help.”
This was the sixth annual motorcycle raffle drawing fundraiser for Crazy Horse. Memorial officials said the year-long drawing promotion sold just over 2,500 tickets and generated slightly over $44,000. The total proceeds are matched by the T. Denny Sanford Foundation in the ongoing challenge to help fund the progress on the mountain carving.
The $5 million Sanford Challenge, established in December 2007, has so far attracted more than $3.5 million in matching funds from visitors and other contributors.