Nite Riders ride again this Friday and Saturday with the first fundraiser weekend since the pandemic. Pictured above in 2017 at the MLK Parade in downtown St. Pete.
BY KARIN DAVIS-THOMPSON Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Thirty-nine years ago, a group of friends decided they wanted to unite to make a difference for young people. They were van owners that would get together and work on various events throughout the state.
They decided if they started an official nonprofit, there was more they could do to help others.
“We realized if we got organized, we could help out people in the community,” said Donnie Williams, the group’s current president.
They started a nonprofit called Nite Riders Van Club. Their mission is to assist youth and their families throughout Pinellas County.
Every year they hosted a weekend celebration as a fundraiser for their organization, complete with a meet and greet, picnic and culminating with a gala where everyone is encouraged to dress to impress.
Then the pandemic hit, and they had to put the event on hold – until now.
The event is back, and it’s the first time for the celebration since the pandemic. The weekend begins on Friday, May 12, at the National Guard Armory at 3601 38th Ave. South, with CJ Da DJ providing music. The Saturday picnic will be held at Lake Maggiore Park, 3601 Dr. MLK Jr. Street South, from 11-3 p.m. And later that evening is the organization’s annual ball, which will also be held at the National Guard Armory.
Williams, a charter member of the group, said funds raised at events like these help the club provide several services for youth, from providing food during various youth events to backpacks with school supplies before the new school year to annual toy drives during the holidays.
With 39 years of service under their belt, the Nite Riders have been honored by the likes of former President Bill Clinton, who sent the organization a commendation during his time in office for their dedicated service.
They also work closely with TASCO, an arm of the City of St. Petersburg’s Park and Recreation Department, with a host of programs for youth, including summer camps, sports and technology programs. The Nite Riders often provide food for TASCO summer camps and help with the yearly Black history event.
For Williams, being a part of the organization since its inception has meant the chance to make a difference and watch some of the youth they’ve helped over the years become successful adults.
“We’ve done all sorts of things over the years, like taking them to Bucs games, things like that,” Williams said. “It’s exciting to see them grown up remembering all of the things we did for them as kids. I’ve always had an interest in the community and helping kids.”
With a current core group of about 18 active members, Williams said the organization is ready to take on whatever projects come their way to help youth and their families in Pinellas County.
“No project is really off limits,” Williams said. “If it benefits the community and we have the time and resources to do it, then we do it.”
Anyone interested in attending the Nite Riders Van Club weekend fundraiser can contact the group at 727-510-0270.
One Reply to “Nite Riders hold first shindig since pandemic”
That’s Awesome to know, That We Still have Some Sort Of African American Events, still Around, Because In My Town,Largo has Nothing like this to Benefit Our Community As Well As Our Kids. Not Racial Motivated By No Means. Speaking the Truth. Congratulations On You All Services.