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Citrus Heights Messenger

Rocker Loans Heart and Harley

Apr 09, 2024 01:04PM ● By Susan Maxwell Skinner, photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner
Tesla rock band vocalist Jeff Keith (front, center) joins friends in Woodhaven Avenue, Carmichael, to plan a “Ride For Reason” fundraiser.


CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Tesla rock band vocalist Jeff Keith will reunite “Ride for Reason” bike ride supporters on May 4.

Self-confessed "two-wheel maniac" Keith (65) first revved up for the charity ride in 2012. The event aids the Higher Purpose Foundation: a nonprofit organization that supports foster youth. This year, veteran causes will also benefit.

“It’s a great feeling to do this ride again,” Keith said. “Helping others is an important part of success in the music industry. You’re on a platform where you can reach people. You can do a lot of good.”

The Granite Bay resident fronts the heavy-metal Tesla group, a Sacramento staple and anchor for many U.S. and international tours. Despite a brief 1990s split, the rockers have sold more than 14 million albums, and are now completing a Mandalay Bay (Las Vegas) residency. Gravel-voiced Keith has been their lead singer for four decades.

When not gigging, he is tooling around Northern California on his Harley Davidson.

“There’s nothing like being on my bike,” he said. “I love the freedom. The engine sound is cool; having hundreds more bike engines beside you is even cooler.”

Fundraising is further music to his ears. Keith’s friend, Sacramento businessman Ryan Fleenor, formed the Higher Purpose Foundation in 1995, and has since raised more than $250,000 to aid foster youth. Keith’s namesake ride assisted until it spluttered to a 2018 hiatus. The pandemic and aftermath stalled resumption until this year.

“Ryan asked me to consider doing it again,” Keith said. “It just worked out that Tesla’s schedule had an opening in May. I’m excited to get behind another ride.”

The event will begin at Harley Davidson’s Folsom dealership.  Riders will sedately thunder along 50 miles of back roads to reach the Roseville Opera House Saloon more than an hour later. Here, Sacramento country singer Jennifer Bell will sing the National Anthem, and during a lunch and concert, Keith promises to jam for several numbers.

Event manager is Whitney Webb, a former teacher who manages Higher Purpose Foundation operations and hopes to see more than 400 riders follow Keith’s exhaust on May 4.  

“With the money raised, we’ll give backpacks, school clothes, Christmas gifts and necessities to underprivileged children and families registered within the Sacramento system,” explained the Carmichael mother. “We’ll also support Bridges Inc., that provides specialized youth services.

“We love having Jeff involved. He stands for humanity and for making the world a better place,” Webb said.

From fundraiser proceeds, Higher Purpose will donate a trained PSD service dog for a combat veteran. Support for a veterans’ golf program and for veteran excursions will also result. 

Helping the cause, Keith contends, shows appreciation for safe communities.

“Without our vets, we wouldn’t have freedom to make choices in our lives," he said. “We owe them everything.”

Keith’s Ride for Reason Reunion will assemble at Folsom Harley Davidson on the morning of May 4 and hit the road at 11 a.m. The ride ends at Roseville Opera House Saloon. Anyone with any type of motorbike can participate.

A registration fee of $30 includes lunch and a concert by Bob Seger tribute band CCsegeR. Meal and concert tickets are also available for $25. For information, visit www.higherpurposefoundation.org.

Jeff Keith Pete DePalma Ryan Fleenor High Purpose Foundation

 Jeff Keith (center) hangs with friends Pete DePalma (left) and High Purpose Foundation founder Ryan Fleenor.


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