It was a special day on October 7, 2006. Not because more than $25,000 was raised for the Reece Good Medical Expense Fund. Not because it was a near-perfect day for a motorcycle ride for the nearly 1,000 riders who came to Gardner, Kansas. Nor was it because of all the good food that was offered or the outstanding music that was being played. Nope, it was special for one reason: Reece Good, the custom motorcycle builder from Gardner who was shot in the head and hand in the early morning hours of August 11, 2006 in Kansas City, Kansas, came home from the hospital for the first time since the incident.
After the nearly 1,000 motorcycles ended the Ridin’ For Reece Poker Run at Wally’s Bar and Grill in Gardner, and as people were making their bids during a live auction, a long black limousine slowly made its way from Main Street into the motorcycle-filled parking lot.
The crowd of more than 1,500 had been abuzz amidst a rumor that Reece was going to make an appearance. Several of Reece’s friends walked along the limo looking more like Secret Service agents than motorcycle riders. And as the car pulled closer to the crowd, people turned their attention from the auction and began moving towards the limo.
People began cheering and clapping as the limo came to a stop in front of a large tent. The door opened, and with the help of medical personnel and family, Reece slowly emerged wearing a blue helmet to protect his head, his bandaged left hand strapped close to his body, and taking small, slow steps towards an awaiting chair.
The cheering and clapping lasted for several minutes. Tears were in the eyes of many in the crowd; even some of the most hardened-looking bikers were wiping their eyes.
For nearly three hours, Reece, along with his doctor, a nurse, and members of his family, sat and talked to people as they filed through the tent to spend just a few minutes with Reece, to wish him well, to shake his hand, or simply just put their hand on his shoulder.
At one point, Reece’s doctor and the nurse who first saw him in the emergency room, spoke to the crowd and emphasized that his recovering to this point is nothing short of a miracle.
A day of fund-raising turned into a day of therapy for a lot of people. “Oh, I think so,” said Robert Cook, a close friend of Reece and one of the event’s organizers. “It was good for people to see Reece and I think it was good for him to get out and talk to his friends and so many others who have supported him. “He was worn out. They told me that when they got him back to the hospital, he went right to sleep.”
Darrin Sammons, another friend of Reece and event organizer, said more than 1,400 hands were purchased at the Poker Run, and there were more than 900 motorcycles entered. “It was just amazing how people turned out for the poker run,” he said, while helping during a car and motorcycle show fund-raiser for Reece on October 8. “And when Reece showed up, that was just really special. It did a lot of good for him and for the people there.”
Jenny Clary, Gardner, volunteered to work at one of the five stops on the motorcycle run. She worked a table at the Short Horns at Highway 7 and 83rd Street. “That was an adventure,” she said, and then laughed. “It was just unbelievable to think how one person has touched the lives of so many people. There were all these people and they just kept coming. They said we probably would just have to be there for maybe an hour-and-a-half; we ended up being there four hours.”
She said people seemed to enjoy themselves. “It was a great day, the weather was great, and it was funny. Some people would roll the dice and get a low score and they would say, ‘Oh well, I don’t care, it’s for a good cause.’ They knew they weren’t going to win, and people were taking it all in stride.”
Wally Borth, owner of Wally’s Bar and Grill, was another event organizer. He and his wife Dawn were busy all day. He said there were a lot of people responsible for making the event run smoothly. “A lot of people,” he said. “There are a lot of people involved in making sure this happens. People gave their time, gave their money, and donated items to sell in order to help Reece.”
Cook added he was overwhelmed with the amount of people who donated their time or made other donations. “I appreciate everything that everyone did,” he said. “There are a lot of people I didn’t really know personally, but they saw a need to get something done, and they all pitched in to get it done.”
And the auction? “Well, it kind of ended once Reece got there,” Cook said. “We have some items left over, and we’re going to try to sell them. There’s one other event coming up that I know of, and that’s a 5K walk and run October 29 starting at Wheatridge Middle School.”
Cook said he had an opportunity to talk with Reece Saturday. My wife Jenny and I got to spend a few minutes with him,” he said. “But there were so many people wanting to talk to him.” Seeing his friend in this situation is difficult for Cook. “I’m not a very emotional type of person, but this . . . really got to me,” he said. “It seems like we’re all insulated out here from the reality of what happens sometimes. But things can change in a blink of an eye.
“When you see something bad like that happen, a lot of times people wish they could do something, but for whatever reason, maybe they don’t know the people, or they’re too far away, or too busy, whatever, you say to yourself, ‘I wish I could do something.’ And that’s as far as it goes. “This is a chance, at least for me, to try and do something. Reece is the kind of guy who would do something for someone and not ask for anything in return; that’s the kind of person he is. We’re not the kind of guys who would hold hands and cry on each other’s shoulders, and I’ve seen a lot of things happen, but nothing . . . nothing. . . got to me like this.”
Reece was shot when he and two friends were returning home after spending six days at the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. The three stopped at a convenience store in Kansas City, Kansas on Kansas Avenue near I-635. When they pulled back onto Kansas Avenue, a car sped up next to the pickup truck and at least five shots were fired into the driver’s window. Reece was strapped into the passenger seat and was the only one shot.
As of Monday afternoon, no arrests had been made. Police have said they believe the shooting was random and might have been a gang initiation. For Cook, and Reece’s many other friends, there’s only one thing that could make them feel better than they did last weekend: For Reece to come home for good.
By Chuck Kurtz