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Family-friendly motorcycle rally scheduled for weekend

Family-friendly and biker rally -- usually the two don't exactly go hand-in-hand, but when Michael Walther organized the Strawberry Lake Motorcycle Rally last year, that was exactly his point.

"It's intended to not be a typical Christian event in the sense that it's for bikers," he said. "Last year we had three-patch folks (gang members) mixing with three piece suits."

In the world of outlaw biking,

The Strawberry Lake Motorcycle Rally is scheduled for Friday through Sunday at the Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat Camp.

While the gospel is preached at the event, people need only participate as they feel comfortable.

Walther said he started the Strawberry Lake Rally because he has been to similar rallies in Europe.

"They have an event that bikers can bring their kids to. The intent is to be a biker event and bring the family, too," he said.

That means no drugs or alcohol at the family-friendly event. It's about respect for everyone.

There will be two main speakers at the event -- Ulf Manneback and Dove Morgan. Walther met Manneback, of Sweden, through a missions trip.

Manneback is head of Church on Wheels, a spiritual agency for bikers and those interested in classic cars.

By age 15, he was living on the streets of Stockholm, doing as much of a drug comparable to meth as he could, before he was saved through Teen Challenge. Since then, he has been working with drug addicts.

Morgan, of Oklahoma, worked in prison ministries when she met her husband, Bear. He had been behind bars in some form for 32 years -- since age 8 -- and was known as being one of the most violent men in the United States prison system. That was until he became a Christian two years before his release.

Bear Morgan died six years ago, but Dove is "keeping the missions alive."

During her time at the Strawberry Lake Motorcycle Rally, she will be sharing stories about Bear's life, how he turned himself around and their experiences together.

"He was a walking miracle," she said of her husband.

She said her husband, who was known as "Mad Dog" during his prison years, made several television appearances due to his turn in life, one that no one thought could be true.

For 12 years, he stayed clean, with no crime, no drugs and no alcohol after leaving prison. The Morgans traveled to nine different countries sharing his story.

Morgan will be speaking Thursday evening, but the official motorcycle rally doesn't begin until Friday at noon.

"Typical hang around biker time," is how he described Friday afternoon.

At 7 p.m. Friday, Morgan will speak again, followed by a concert by Rod Volker & Reign Dancers, a possible bluegrass jam session and then time for bonfires and more relaxing.

Saturday events start at 9:30 a.m. with a presentation of colors at the lakeshore of the retreat camp, "to honor veterans who have paid the price and those still paying."

There will be a 70-mile ride through the countryside, followed by a fee-will meal, music by Vincent and the Van-Goes, a bike show and games. Manneback will speak that evening, followed by another jam session. Walther's Skyblues Band will also perform Saturday.

Sunday, there will be an early service and then a ride to the Mississippi Headwaters at Itasca State Park.

Morgan encourages everyone to come check out the event.

"Everyone is free to participate as they feel comfortable," Walther said.

"We make friends and let God do the rest," Morgan added.