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How the Ride for Ronnie Helps Keep Ronnie James Dio’s Legacy Alive: Exclusive Wendy Dio Interview

T.J. Martell Foundation 35th Annual Awards Gala
Charley Gallay / Ben Gabbe, Getty Images

The third annual Ride for Ronnie, a motorcycle rally and concert benefiting the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, rolls through the streets of Los Angeles County on May 7. The event stands as another example of a desire Wendy Dio had to get cancer donations to the right place after her husband succumbed to the disease.

“When Ronnie passed away, a lot of people wanted to send money to cancer research, and I was like, but how do you know where it’s really going to?” Dio tells Ultimate Classic Rock. “Some of these big companies do good work, but a lot of money gets eaten up into administration. So, 14 really good friends of Ronnie’s, who’ve been good friends of his for almost 30 years, we all got together and formed the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. We have specific goals of where the money goes – and also, when we write the checks, we write on there what research it’s going to, because I think that’s very, very important.”

The Ride for Ronnie also includes a raffle and benefit auctions, food trucks, vendors and an afternoon of live music at Los Encinos State Historic Park featuring Eddie Money, Dio Disciples, Lynch Mob and others. Wendy Dio says the appearance is special for Money, who “was a great friend of Ronnie’s, and there for us. We love him; we love him. A lot of bikers come to his shows.”

Ronnie James Dio died on May 16, 2010, of metastasized stomach cancer. The Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund launched the following summer, and has since been associated with a series of benefit events. Ride for Ronnie raised more than $50,000 in 2016.

“The first year with the ride, we had about 150 riders and about 500 people attending,” Wendy Dio adds. “Last year, we had 350 riders, and 1,500 people attending – and this year we’re hoping it’ll even be more. We’re growing and raising more money for cancer, and keeping Ronnie’s music and legacy alive.”

Among those set to take part in the ride are Lita Ford, Gilby Clark of Guns N’ Roses fame, Sean McNabb of Lynch Mob and Taime Downe of Faster Pussycat, among others. Former Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler is rumored to be planning an all-star jam with more details to be announced. Riders and concert goers get more information and tickets at the Dio Cancer Fund website.

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