New Orleans or bust: Avera bikers answer call of the open road

June 1, 2017

Avera Health's president and chief executive John Porter and a few other Avera employees are hitting the road on June 8, riding motorcycles about 1,200 miles from Sioux Falls, S.D., to New Orleans to attend the Catholic Health Assembly, which begins June 11.

Porter said he got interested in motorcycles in 1992 when he was taking his son Jerime to college and stopped at a famed biker rally in Sturgis, S.D. He loved the easygoing vibe at the event and said that sense of freedom and ease "is the ultimate escapism."

He bought a Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 and started to ride. Within a year, he traded up to a Harley-Davidson Big Twin. Several of his family members now share his enthusiasm for motorcycles.

Porter said as of mid-May, some of his colleagues were still deciding if they'd be biking to the assembly. The Avera gang has made road trips to previous assemblies in Denver, San Diego and New Orleans. They built flexibility into their schedule in part to adapt to weather conditions, often deciding on a day-to-day basis where they would stop for the night; this year's road trip is expected to follow a similar game plan.

Porter said on his Harley he cannot fixate on work-related issues, as he has to stay in the moment and pay attention to everything going on around him. The fresh air helps him clear his head.

Here, Porter and colleagues who ride together gather for a picture at Avera's corporate headquarters in Sioux Falls. From left are Penny Loebs, Gwen Arechigo, Kim Nelson, Porter, Jim Veline, Jim Burkett and JR LaPlante.


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