More than 100 bikers from the region gathered on Sunday, Nov. 25, in Rockingham in honor of a teenage boy who perished in a house fire a week ago.
The benefit ride was in tribute to 13-year-old Garon Wayne Benson and his family.
Garon was killed in a house fire at 268 2nd St. Safie, East Rockingham, on Nov. 18. Garon’s mother, Mandy Carpenter, and step-father, David Carpenter, were able to escape the blaze, however, Mandy remained in serious condition at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill on Monday.
The death of Garon has weighed heavily on neighbors, friends, classmates and family alike. There has been an outpouring of emotions ranging from sympathy to grief over the family’s recent tragedy and ongoing struggle to survive. The family lost everything in the fire.
With a tremendous sense of care and concern, motorcycle riders from many different clubs and counties came together for Sunday’s ride, such as the Wingmen of Rockingham, Playaz Elite of Rockingham, A Few Good Brothers to the End of Wadesboro, Dragon Riders of Mt. Gilead, and the Ghost Riders participated in the event.
Of the assembled bikers, about 87 rode to the charred ruins of the Carpenter home for a prayer service. Strangers and friends unified and aligned themselves around the property in remembrance of life lost.
With outstretched arms the bikers and approaching neighbors joined one another, as leaders delivered prayers from the hillside steps at the edge of what was left of the home.
“On behalf of the Wingmen MC of Rockingham, it’s our honor to help the family,” said the MC’s Chapter Vice President Steve McDaniel. “This is the easiest and most supporting town to coordinate fundraisers with, and all the help and support in this event is appreciated.”
The benefit ride was followed by a $5 plate sale and auction in Rockingham. A variety of items such as a gun cleaning kit, leather jackets, vests and clothes were auctioned off.
Neighbors and friends of the family, Megan Pierson and Tammy Leviner, were selling black, purple, blue and yellow colored pins made by Pierson, for $2 each. The black and purple pins were in recognition of Garon’s favorite football team, the Baltimore Ravens, while the blue and yellow pins represented Rohanen Middle School.
Collectively, nearly $4,000 was raised by the event, which was presented to David Carpenter later that night.
Garon’s cousin, Chad McDonald, said he felt good to see all the people “come together” for the family.
At around 4:35 a.m. on Nov. 18, East Rockingham Fire Department and Cordova Fire Department were dispatched to the home in East Rockingham.
“Flames covered all areas of the house,” said Fire Chief Mitchell Watson of the East Rockingham Fire Department. “Unfortunately, in my mind, the child had already passed before our arrival.”
After attempting to gain entrance to the fiery home, with no luck of retrieving the child, Watson said he had to deem the mission as a body recovery operation.
Information gathered by Watson indicated that the family, including Garon, were on their way out when the roof started to collapse. “Garon was most likely trapped by the collapse,” said Watson. “All the firemen are keeping the family in our thoughts and prayers — Garon will not be forgotten.”
Watson said, due to the amount of damage the fire department could not determine whether the home was equipped with smoke detectors; there was no evidence of a smoke detector.
The chief said this incident has moved him and his department to develop a program with the goal of getting smoke detectors in homes throughout the area, so that other families won’t have to go through such a painful ordeal.
— Staff Writer Cassidy Odom can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 16, or by email at email@example.com.