History-making storms ripped through the Southeast, April 27 of this year, with the hardest hit, most damage done, and the most people killed in the state of Alabama. People are still trying to rebuild their lives this many months later. With that said, you would think that any and ALL help offered would be appreciated, but that’s not the case.
A group of bikers known as the “Sons of Armageddon” motorcycle club, who are a charity-based group that believe in helping their fellow man in times of need, set out for some of the hardest hit areas after the storm to offer what help they could in the clean up effort, or what ever else might be needed to help these people get back on their feet. Would you believe that they were turned away from at least three different locations! Who does that? Not to be detoured, they hooked up with Kelly Thornton, Nancy Bunn, a group of volunteers and the Salvation Army to organize an event to raise money to benefit the Salvation Army, who, after all, are the ones that have offered the most help for the tornado victims, and they are the ones who actually use the biggest portion of the donated monies where they were intended to go.
On August 27, 2011, Brierfield Ironworks State Park, just outside of Montevallo, Alabama, was the site chosen for the 2-day event. In a hollow, beside a wet weather stream that would forever after be known as Furnace Branch, a group of men calling themselves the Bibb County Iron Company, built a furnace in 1862 that started producing the toughest, most suitable iron for making guns. In 1863, the Confederate government purchased the ironworks and soon added a second furnace and rolling mill. In the early morning hours of March 31, 1865, the Federal 10th Missouri Cavalry saddled up in Montevallo and dashed to the Brierfield Ironworks, within minutes they were in flames. From 1873 to 1880, the furnaces were silent. In the early 1880s, they were back in business. Finally, on Christmas Eve, 1894, the Brierfield furnace blew out, forever.
The park is very beautiful, with camping available, and even a swimming pool! Some of the bikers stayed there as well as most of the vendors that lined the road.
The University of Montevallo also offered up rooms for some of them to stay in since there are no hotels close by. Miss Christy Shotts, who works with the University at the Ramsay Conference Center and Lodge, hooked us up with a nice room complete with private bath for us and “Harley-Jane” to stay in Saturday night.
The University property is very nice! We enjoyed staying there very much! Apparently this is where visiting families, etc. stay. We were surprised to learn that the University of Montevallo was born out of a dream of Julia Tutwiler and vision of Senator Solomon Block in 1896 and opened as, “Alabama Girls Industrial School” for young women. In 1956 it was decided that they would admit male students, and in 1969 Alabama College became the University of Montevallo. The university is a state-supported, 4-year Liberal Arts College, emphasizing a quality education in a small college environment.
On Saturday morning hundreds of bikes rolled into the Brierfield Ironworks State Park to start the 2-day event off with an escorted ride through the country then back to the park where there was live music on the stage all day and into the night with CGS Events supplying the sound and lights. Most of the escorts that had agreed to working the ride backed out at the last minute, so the Brierfield Fire Department stepped in to do the job, Thanks guys! Also, the ride was scheduled to go through Tuscaloosa, one of the hardest hit towns. They were told at the last minute that they would not be going through Tuscaloosa.
Pro-Cat Productions was on hand for the event to follow the ride and the bikes around and film the whole thing and get individual shots of the bikes for their owners. They compiled a DVD of the event to sell, with proceeds also going to the Salvation Army. Copies may be purchased on line at www.procatav.com.
There was a whole lot of good eating for people to choose from like “Abbie’s” where we chose to eat some of the best burgers we’ve ever had, thanks to Nat and Abbie Lavoy. There was also a lot of fun stuff vendors like Miss Wendy and her biker dolls. These had little chaps, doo rags, boots, and bling for the biker chicks, with different color hair on each. I now have a little mini me that stands next to the tire of the bike!
They held a little auction that had a signed guitar in it that created quite a stir and raised several hundred dollars on its own. One of the “Sons” put up a bike he had brought in from Ohio, but no one wanted to get serious about the bid on it, so he took it back with him. They had several different chapters of the Sons of Armageddon that came to support the event, some from as far away as Ohio.
Going into the lunch break they had a bunch of “goodies” to give away, like the Harley clock that our new friends, Bruce and Catrina won. We were taken back to New Orleans when the Salvation Army band with their horns took the stage. It was awesome; I could listen to that all day long!
The Dallas Perry band was the big hit of the night, and toward the end of their set they played this song that had all of the Sons of Armageddon bikers who had been parked on both sides of the stage cranking up the bikes and rolling into the middle to meet. While this was going on, Pro-Cat had a DVD going on a big screen on the side that had shots of the tornado damage and clips from the ride earlier in the day. They also had some of the families affected by the tornados up at the front of the stage. By the end of it all, it was just a big hug and tears fest. I’m tearing up just writing this. It was, needless to say, very heart warming.
“Dollar Bill Lawson” from 102.5 the Bull radio station was there to say a few words along with the Mayor of Brierfield.
Sunday morning, there was more live music to greet everyone as they arrived for the pancake breakfast that was over at “Abbie’s” place and for the Bike Show, which was pretty funny!
After the awards for the bike show, they presented the Salvation Army with a check for $7,168.23. You can tell that they turned over everything that was raised, down to the 23 cents. Sergeant Andy Bailey, Corps Officer/Pastor, who had been there for the whole weekend, along with Brian Wallace, Director of Public Relations at the Birmingham Salvation Army, was there to humbly, graciously and thankfully accept the check from Nancy Bunn and the Sons of Armageddon, who also took that time to thank everyone for supporting and helping with the event, which was very successful. From what we were told, I believe that they are going to make this an annual event, since there will most assuredly be a need – somewhere!
Write-On and Ride-On
Story by Lynn Reynolds and
Special thanks to Leslie McDuffie Fillingim & husband Mike for the two road shots!