ROCKINGHAM — Over 100 bikers roared their engines in support of Richmond County Hospice on Sunday, the first ride organized by the Independent Riders of Richmond County.
“There’s no other feeling” than riding in a pack that size, said Buzz Waite, vice president of the Ghost Riders, noting that you can feel the different vibrations of each motorcycle as it passes.
The 105 riders raised $5,769 for Hospice, according to Donnie Butler of the Independent Riders, well shy of their original goal of $10,000, but Butler said they were “very satisfied” with the turnout.
“For out community of bikers to come together to support something like this, it was totally awesome,” Butler said. “I’m looking forward to it being bigger and better next year.”
The riders traveled up to the Airpark in Raeford to see some skydivers landing, but there were cancellations due to weather, putting the show in jeopardy. Butler said that there happened to be an opening in the sky and the riders were able to see a group jump just as they arrived.
“It was really cool,” he said.
In all, it was about a 3-hour ride. Participating clubs were the Ol’ Skool Tribe, Ghost Riders, and Steel Wheels.
Many of the bikers tied ribbons on their bikes bearing the names of those that Hospice had cared for over the years. For Butler, Hospice cared for his father, who passed two years ago, and then guided him through his grief by connecting him with counselors.
For Waite and his wife, Cynthia, they were riding for Cynthia’s father, Mitchell Elvis, who was in and out of Hospice over a long period of time as his health faded.
“They prepared us,” Cynthia Waite said of Hospice’s care.
Waite said that the reality of biker gangs is starkly different from the lawless, hard-partying and violent image shown in media, like the popular Sons of Anarchy series.
“We’re just people that love to ride bikes,” Waite said. “There’s no better supporter of the community than bikers.”
Jamie Watson, of the Independent Riders, put it differently: “We’re an eating club with a motorcycle problem.”
Sarah Holder, who has organized biker rides for the Richmond County Special Olympics, said there’s “no hesitation” in banding together for a fundraiser from the biker community when a group or individual needs support.
“A lot of people give bikers a bad rap for being dirty and dingy but they’ve got heart of gold,” Holder said. She compared their willingness to help to the famous line in the film “Field of Dreams” (1989), “If you build it they will come,” except for the bikers it’s, “If you Facebook it, they will come.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]