I was contacted about a month ago by Sissy Graham with regard to organizing a ride to raise money for a couple of her friends, Ralph and Amy Burnell. Their 16-year-old son recently had both of his kidneys removed and is in need of a transplant. They learned shortly before the ride that both Amy and Ralph were good candidates for the transplant, but they were in need of a little financial help with their part of the expenses.
Seeing the urgency of the situation, I was more than happy to help her pull together a ride that would coincide with their church’s part of the day’s events. All of that had already been put in place; it was up to us to set it in motion; IN 3 WEEKS! But hey, we rocked. Translation: Sissy kicked butt! She told me they already had 2 or 3 music groups that would be at Mission Baptist Church in Woodstock, and the church ladies would be preparing a spread of food that would feed everyone at the end of the ride. The music would start at 6 p.m., and that’s what we based our timeline on. So we had to work with the schedule we were given. Actually, I would love to have this team to work with on ALL of our endeavors!
Sissy did the homework I assigned her to do and then some! She took the fliers we created and ran with them. We had them going everywhere, and were e-mailing copies out to everyone. A whole lot of nice things were donated which we gave away as door prizes, like leather gloves, billfolds, etc., and $10 raffle tickets for a few of the larger items like a leather coat, boom box, etc. Some of the item donators were the Victory-Suzuki Warehouse, Cycle Connections, Riders Harley-Davidson and Heart of Dixie Harley-Davidson, Tannie Hill Leather, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some of them.
Rider’s Harley-Davidson in Trussville played host to the start of this event with a 2-hour registration and line-up starting at 1:30 p.m. the afternoon of March 7, and the weather was tailor-made perfect to get out and ride. Ralph’s riding buddies were also expected to ride with us. Knowing they are coming is one thing, but when you see this cluster of bikes come rolling in, it’s still pretty cool! They all rolled into place with the rest of the group that had started to line up in 2’s along the far side of the parking lot—and when the line got to the other end of the lot—that was pretty cool too!
As we were wrapping up registration, we walked out into the parking lot and saw several Trussville police cars. I walked over and jokingly asked if them were going to escort us out of there, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that they were going to escort us out of Trussville, and that we had one County bike cop that would be making the ride at least part of the way. We were not expecting that, and the one who rode with us said later that he didn’t know for sure he was going to make the ride until that morning, but, Man, what a blessing that was. It was also a very impressive sight to see and hear as we had around 100 bikes pulling out of there, with Ralph, Jacob Rogers and Speedy Graham leading the pack behind the cops.
We had a beautiful ride. And since it was to be a few-hour ride, I suggested to Sissy that we have a stop in the middle, so she settled on Heart of Dixie Harley-Davidson. That gave everyone a chance to get gas, something to drink, shake a leg, you know!
We thought we were about to lose the cop that had been riding with us shortly after we left, and we were a little worried about that because we wanted to keep the ride together, but as it turned out, we had cops at every intersection, 4-way stop and exit ramps, and the cop riding up front was still leading the pack as we wound around the road to get up to the church.
There were a lot of people lined up in front of the church as we drove around, and one of them was Dusty. They said that they heard us before they saw us! It was so cool, I know I keep saying that but –it was!
After all riders had reached the church, and with everyone parked, we gathered everyone closer so we could all thank them for coming, and we met our guest of honor, Dusty. He loved it! We all loved it! The pastor, Brother Jimmy Jones, also thanked everyone, and then led us all in a prayer, but not before getting on Leigh’s friend Dewayne’s bright green “chopper.” He said he just had to see what that felt like for himself just once in his life!
Once inside we discovered a treasure trove of FOOD—food from the church ladies and pizzas from Poppi’s Pizza, and a back wall of 8-foot tables loaded with homemade cakes, pies, cookies and brownies-also from the church ladies. OH MY GOSH! LOVED IT!
The drama team, consisting of Cassie Graham, Megan Capshaw, Sarah Deason, Dusty Atchison, Kelsey Wilson, Hali Booth and Lindsey had planned to do something for everyone, along with the music from the “Mission Heirs” & “ 4 Given Quartet”; however, shortly after we ate and did the door prizes and the larger raffled items there weren’t a lot of bikers left. While it was such of beautiful day, a lot of us still had to travel a good bit after it had gotten dark, so it was going to be a cold ride home. I was warm though, sitting behind Leigh, wearing his leather jacket and chaps!
We would like to thank the family, Dusty, Amy and Ralph Burnell, Shelby Atchison, and Arial Burnell for allowing us to be part of the family for the day. I also want to thank Sissy Graham for contacting me, and for doing such a great job with everything!
She also wanted us to convey to everyone that they ALL thank God first and foremost, then we’re just “gonna” share the love. Thanks to Riders Harley-Davidson and Heart of Dixie Harley-Davidson for allowing us to invade their business, and Speedy Graham, Ralph Burnell, Jacob Rogers, and of course our escort bike that made the whole trip, leading the pack and keeping us safe, along with all the police escorts along the way, to all of the sweet church ladies for all of the great food, all of the businesses that made donations, the drama team, the “music makers,” the music director, Chuck Tanner, and pastor Jimmy Jones, who, by the way, told them later that we bikers could come back to his church anytime, just make sure we bring that green chopper!—Ha! Ha! Ha!
We also want to thank all of the bikers who came and rode with us; without you guys there couldn’t be a ride! We wish the family all of the best, and hope that the event was able to help them out.
Write-On and Ride-On
Story and photos by Lynn Reynolds and