Fun-raising: The Stones signed our bike!
The Stones show is over, but the band left at least one local charity revved up in their wake. Mick, Keith, Ron, and Charlie each signed a 2005 Harley Davidson Fatboy that's being raffled off by the charity Log A Load for Kids to benefit the UVA Children's Hospital.
Log A Load chair Rich Palermo says he never dreamed the Stones would say yes when he called their Manhattan-based PR firm Rogers and Cowan three weeks before the concert to make his request.
"I was not expecting to hear back," he says. "I felt like a telemarketer, like I was asking for something that I would not hear back about."
He was surprised about an hour later when he received a call asking him to put his request in an email. And the good news kept on coming.
Less than two days later, Palermo got the word: the Stones would sign the bike– and he'd get to meet the British rockers in the process.
"If they could have recorded my excited response," he laughs, "they could have auctioned that off, too."
On concert day, October 6, Palermo parked the bike outside the Stones' dressing rooms at Scott Stadium and waited for the musical legends to arrive.
Mick Jagger was first on the scene and, to Palermo's surprise, he wasn't in a limo. "He arrived in the back of a compact American car," Palermo recalls. (In fact, Jagger would have arrived in finer style, but his Lincoln Town Car had been in a fender bender with a fire engine on his way from the airport, so Jagger switched into an unmarked UVA police car.)
"He said, 'cool bike,'" gushes Palermo, who "shook his hand, thanked him, and told him I was looking forward to the show."
The other members weren't far behind.
"Five minutes later, here came a police escort of motorcycles with sirens, horns, whistles blowing," Palermo recalls. Palermo's excitement grew as two limos pulled up.
In the first: Keith Richards and Ron Wood.
Richards wrote, "Love Keith Richards '05," Palermo recalls, while Wood signed his name. Charlie Watts arrived in the second limo.
They all "smiled and were friendly," says the star-struck Palermo, who immediately lacquered over the signatures to preserve them.
Following the signing, Palermo had more than 20 volunteers from Log A Load helping sell the $5 raffle tickets. By the end of the show, they'd raised $6,000. "We could have sold more if we had more manpower," he says. "It's hard to reach everyone."
Since the concert, that figure has grown to more than $25,000, well above the $17,000 Log A Load paid Shenandoah Harley Davidson-Buell for the bike. But Palermo says there's still a long way to go.
"We're hoping for $100,000-plus in ticket sales," he says, before the December 2 drawing at Shenandoah Harley.
Whatever the final figure, Palermo says the Stones have made sure this is a fundraiser he won't soon forget.
"You can't beat a boy's fascination with motorcycles and the Rolling Stones," he says.
The drawing takes place December 2 at Shenandoah Harley Davidson-Buell. $5 raffle tickets are available at locations around town including Plan 9 Records and Mincer's, or they can be purchased by calling 924-8432.
Rich Palermo sits on the Harley signed by the Rolling Stones, which will be raffled off December 2.
PHOTO BY GEORGE KAMIDE<