By Ray Balogh
SYRACUSE — The numbers were all in Sean Berwanger’s favor.
He purchased 15 raffle tickets for $20, including ticket number 17560, in his first visit to the Indiana state fair, giving himself a one-in-20,000 or so chance of winning the grand prize: a 2020 1133cc Indian Scout Anniversary motorcycle. Only 750 of the bikes were made to commemorate the model’s 100th anniversary of production.
On Monday, Aug. 30, Berwanger’s prize was delivered to his house near Cromwell, the ultimate perk for “just making a donation to the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association,” which sponsored the fundraiser.
Berwanger attributed the win to a joint effort with his wife, Ashleigh.
“She made me enter the raffle. We were walking through the booths and saw the sheriff’s booth in the corner. She said, ‘You should make the donation,’ and it was her intuition that gave us the winning ticket, for sure.”
When he received the call on Friday, Aug. 22, the final day of the state fair, “I thought it was a joke. Then they asked some pertinent questions about the ticket, and I knew it was real.”
Berwanger has been a devotee of motorcycles since the age of 8. “I used to race motocross when I was a kid, up until I was 16 or 17. I raced at Red Bud in Buchanan, Mich., and at Trojan in North Webster.”
Several years ago he bought a 1990 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-7R, one of several street bikes he has owned, and “as an adult” he now rides for fun rather than competition.
The Indiana Sheriffs’ Association delivered the motorcycle. Steve Luce, the association’s executive director, mentioned the raffle’s significance.
“Normally we sell 35,000 to 40,000 tickets during the 10-month project, which starts Oct. 1. Several sheriffs take the tickets to their county fairs. The last two years the numbers have been down, and we sold about 20,000 to 25,000 tickets this year.
“The proceeds benefit several youth camps, scholarships and benefits for families of officers fallen in the line of duty. We conduct two junior high camps, north and south, where we look for future officers and leadership in the community. We also give 40 $750 scholarships to seniors going to a state college to study criminal justice.”
In the more general sense of promotion, said Luce, “The fundraiser helps us show how we want to build communities of trust, since county sheriffs are elected. They provide a defense against federal overreach. Home rule is very important in every county.”
Luce applauded the community support Hoosiers give their sheriffs. “In Indiana we support law enforcement, especially compared to some other states.” The association, he said, “is a very cohesive group. We are all on the same page.”
Berwanger has not decided exactly what to do with his new bike. “As a 100th anniversary model, it could be an investment piece or a ridden piece.”
He took a test spin Monday that lasted all of about 30 seconds. He didn’t need any more time to reach the verdict that, “it’s enjoyable to ride.”
If he does ride the bike, he may take it to visit his mother, who lives “in the Ozarks in Arkansas.”
Hendricks County Sheriff Brett Clark, who is serving this year as ISA president, bestowed his endorsement upon the motorcycle. “I love the Indian. That’s what I ride at home. I used to ride a Harley but I’m never going back.”
Also on hand for the presentation were Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle Dukes and Sgt. Chris Francis, the department’s public information officer.
Sean and Ashleigh have a 14-year-old daughter who is a freshman at Wawasee High School. Sean is an independent dealer in real estate and Ashleigh said she is “lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom.”