I tell anyone who will listen that the motorcycle community is one of the most charitable groups in the country. The past few weeks have confirmed that for me. One weekend we had over 100 make the ride for the Sheriff’s Boys ranch. The next week, over 200 helped raise money for Camp Wheeze Away, an event that we were very proud to have helped facilitate. And the very next week there were over 400 bikes at bike night at Lightning Strikes with a pre-party/pre-registration for a ride that would take place the next day. The ride was to benefit Larry “Mad Dog” Rogers. At the ride on Saturday, there were over 400. That is pretty awesome!
Mad Dog is considered to be a friend to so very many people whose lives he has touched over the many, many years he has worked behind the parts counter for Bill and Tim Peek at Riders Harley-Davidson in Trussville, Alabama. Recently, Mad Dog was diagnosed with cancer, and needless to say, it has been a tough road with treatments and trips to the doctor and everything that goes along with it for him, and I’m sure equally hard for his fiancée Linda, who also works at Riders.
Dog’s passion, besides his old Panhead, is being part of the Civil War reenactments, which I think is pretty cool. They dress in period uniforms and cook over an open fire with cast iron pots and skillets and stuff! I know it has been really hard on him not to be able to do those things right now, as well as to not be able to ride. He spends most days now just trying to keep his energy up, recoup from the treatments, and keep his appetite up. He’s doing a good job, and it looks very hopeful for his future, although it will be a long road made just a little bit easier with the love and support of family and friends along the way.
It was no surprise when the ride to raise money to help him out turned out to be such a big deal. There were so many people from all over who eagerly wanted to do anything and everything they could to help that the ride turned into a three-day event and was planned in just a few short weeks’ time.
When Dennise O’Donnell from Riders, Roger Walton and Jason Mansell first started talking about doing a poker run, it didn’t take long before they were covered up with people wanting to help. Some of them were from Riders, and of course, Bill and Tim Peek were the first to extend a hand and open their hearts, as well as both Heart of Dixie Harley-Davidson and Riders Harley-Davidson. Some of the help offered was from his many friends, and over 30 businesses who became corporate sponsors, as well as several of the motorcycle clubs. Leigh and I chipped in and helped where we could, and naturally, Cycle Connections donated some T-shirts and Koozies for their give-aways. They had so many donations for giving away and auctioning, that they had to do some each of the three days.
It was decided that Dennise, Cassandra, Shelia, Roger, Jason, and Craig, with a little help from Fuzzy, would set up at bike night Friday night at Lightning Strikes to register people for the ride that was to take place the next day. Dog’s sister Sherri and his niece Alecia along with her husband Shane were also there to lend a hand.
Over 100 riders registered. I took a few of the big items they would be auctioning off Saturday so that everyone could see some of what would be in the auction.
Dog’s son Jacob’s band, “Latest Rumor” played on this night for us all, and most of the over 400 there that night stayed until late into the night. Early Saturday morning we were all back at Riders to register the rest of the riders. There was another 300 + to add to the 100 from Friday night, so the ride left in shifts all day.
They had added an extra few miles to the ride to take everyone by Dog’s house in hopes he would hear them. He had been told they were coming by and he was very excited about the whole thing. He was up most of the day, and he did hear them! There was a large banner for everyone to sign and express their well wishes, as well as a card for Linda. Both were left out all weekend for everyone to get a chance to sign; by Sunday they were both very full!
The band “Stone Dogs” was the first of three bands to play outside for us Saturday, while “The Blue Grassholes” played inside for part of the day. The Firehouse Grill was there all day to cook for everyone. Most of the state’s Harley shops sent a shirt for them to put in a silent auction. They hung them around inside the H.O.G building, with corresponding sheets for them to place their bids on all weekend. Saturday afternoon as the first of the groups to leave on the ride were returning, the band “Day-Glo Monkeys” took the stage outside. Saturday night “Latest Rumor” took over the job. Leigh was the auctioneer, with a little help from Dennise and Sherri from Bessie’s, and the beautiful ladies Sherri and I pulled out of the crowd to walk around with some of the items. We had Jena, Alecia (Dave’s wife), and two other very sweet ladies whose name I have lost. I am so sorry for that, but we did greatly appreciate all of them for helping us out. Bill Peek, daughter Leah, son Will, and Tim Peek came out to party with us, and party we did well into the night! Sunday morning we were all back at Riders, but because it rained off and on all day, the crowd was much smaller.
The “Day-Glo Monkeys” were inside playing for us as Dennise finished the raffles. Then it was time to let everyone know who won the bids on the different H-D shirts. The shirts from Alaska and Kona were the top bid shirts after the $200 that Dog’s “Operation “Mad Dog” camo shirt brought in. We all had those camo shirts to wear for the weekend, and at the end of the day Sunday when everything had been sold and given away or auctioned off, we auctioned off the shirt that Dennise had been wearing, right off her back. She was such a good sport about it she even let Adam “Chambers Smith,” who had the top bid of $75, take it right off of her.
We had a blast! We rolled up the banner and gave it to Linda along with the card and the disk of pictures I had made for her from the two days before for her to take home to Dog. Needless to say, Linda was very touched by the HUGE show of love and support for Mad Dog and her. I know Dog was equally touched!
By the end of the day Sunday they had raised over $25,000 but there are still people sending in donations so that figure will surely grow! Congratulations to Tim Wester who was the winner of the poker run and took home $300 and to Bill Lee who had the worst hand. And Bill, if you haven’t already, get in touch with Dennise, she still has your prize! There were many different motorcycle clubs and riding clubs that helped out with this event, as well as a few dozen volunteers. There were so many people who helped, it would take another whole article just to get them mentioned, but that is not why they did it. They did it because of their love for Mad Dog! And I hope each and every one of you knows just how much your help was appreciated.
Write-On and Ride-On
Story and photos by Lynn Reynolds and
Leigh Lilly - Birmingham, Alabama