Speech For Italian Embassy Press Conference
My name is Khaled Kekhia, a Lebanese motorcycle rider.
Recently I discovered that the passion for motorcycles is not limited to the Lebanese, as it turns out a few Italians love motorcycles as much as we do.
Of course they design and invent them but we like to think we are better riders.
Since both Lebanese and Italians share an appreciation for motorcycles and want to ride for great causes, here is a chance to put those iron horses to good use. Let them carry assistance and much needed donations so we as riders can be joined together in this humanitarian event to show solidarity with less fortunate Lebanese communities.
Therefore it gives the Lebanese motorcycle riders, great pleasure to be invited by the Defense Office of the Italian Embassy to participate in a charity fundraising event benefiting Lebanese communities.
This noble event shows it is possible to bring people of different backgrounds, varied religions and multiple political affiliations and last but not least different motorcycle preferences, to ride together in a charity event all the while promoting safe and courteous motorcycle riding in Lebanon.
At this time we would like to express our gratitude to his Excellency the Ambassador Mr. Giuseppe Morabito for the kind patronage of this worthy cause and for allowing this effort to be an act of unity amongst the Lebanese participants and our new Italian friends away from their homes helping protect the fragile way of life in ours.
This event was the brainchild of the Italian Defense Attaché, Colonel Antonio Bettelli; without his persistence and contagious positive energy this project could not have materialized in such a short amount of time. Thank you Colonel Betelli for your graceful commanding leadership and for your patience with us all, when we struggle to find the unity that binds us together now.
This coming Sunday could not come fast enough to head south to the Italian Joint Task Force Lebanon Sector West HQ in Chamaa and extend our heart felt thanks in person to the base Commander Brigadier General Miglietta and Lieutenant Colonel Di Giorgio for their hospitality and kindness during our two visits to the base. Thank you for making us feel welcome amongst friends.
With much gratitude we thank the Internal Security Forces Colonel Georges Elias and Major Maroun Khawand for their valuable guidance to ensure rider safety during preparations and for watching over us for the duration of the ride.
It is with much appreciation we thank The Lebanese Armed Forces Colonel Fadi Khawaja for the security escorts and assistance in planning the ride.
This event generated a surprisingly large amount of work for many of us; we thank Warrant Officer Lieutenant Danilo Rosati for his invaluable attention to detail and constant follow up.
We thank Carabinieri Pierluigi Ciardo, Corporal Carabinieri Iain Noble, Carabinieri Fabio Lao Incognito and Carabinieri Andrea Armato for the endless hours they spent trying to make sense of the submitted application forms and documentation in handwritten Arabic. We appreciate the silent work you do and thank you for taking care of our late arriving documents.
This event has been generously cared for by our esteemed sponsors, the insurance for this ride is donated by the Commercial Insurance of Lebanon and of course, during our many rides across Lebanon, one company has always watched over us and assisted any rider in case of medical emergency; we extend a big thank you to PTS for the use of two ambulances during this event.
All this effort needs to be brought out into the light for all Lebanese to see and reflect upon. No one is better equipped for this task other than our own Lebanese news and media professionals. We thank the Daily Star, Orient Le Jour, An Nahar, ANI, New TV, Tele Liban, MTV, Future TV, LBC and OTV for taking an interest and reporting on this amazing united motorcycle riders charitable event and Rai TV for following and covering the ride.
So we as united motorcycle riders of Lebanon, who are we exactly?
We are people just like you, who share a love for motorcycle riding. Professionals from all walks of life, sons and fathers, daughters and mothers, brothers and sisters just like the rest of you, yet driven by passion for the bikes we ride.
This passion could not be realized without the support of our hard working motorcycle clubs and much appreciated franchised dealers in Lebanon. With 426 participants, 264 bikes and 16 vehicles in this event we come together in unity as riders of Hog Lebanon represented by Marwan Tarraf and Iskandar Tohme, the Ducati motorcycles represented by Gilbert Khoury, Rasha AbuHamad, Selim Sinno and Karim Azhari, Kawasaki bikes represented by Ashwak Traboulsi and Shadi Abou Khuzam, the Aprilia/Moto Guzzi motorcycles represented by Nicholas Abukather and Yves Khadra, BMW represented by Ziad Richa and club Motoral represented by Ghazi Baker, Ziad Ismail, Jihad Samra, Hanna Maalouf, Eddy Nehme and myself Khaled Kekhia.
Last but not least, we wish to extend an immense individual thank you to all our participating members for their support and faith in executing such an undertaking. It is based on their generous donations and contributions that nearly $20,000 was collected enabling the purchase of two power generators, one for the College of St. Joseph in Ain Ebel and one for the municipality of Zibquine. The message we bring here today is one of the need for unity within our motorcycle community, to lead by example with the full support and invaluable participation of our clubs, Hog Lebanon and Motoral and our dealers Ducati, Aprilia, BMW and Kawasaki without whom this event could not be a joint success.
What we do for ourselves usually dies with us, what we do for our community and others remains forever.
We hope this event sets the pace for many more joint rider charitable efforts around Lebanon from North to South.