More than 100 motorcycles pulled out of the Parkway Theater in Maryville on Sept. 28 to raise money for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. The ride was in memory of two little girls who lost their lives to cancer this past spring.
The Emily and Maddie Memorial Motorcycle Ride and Show was sponsored by the Blount County Association of Realtors and Dixie Iron Riders motorcycle riding organization. Before expenses, more than $2,000 was raised to support the Oncology Department at the hospital with more donations expected to come in, BCAR association executive Tina McKeehan said.
“Our main goal is to support families at the oncology department,” McKeehan said. “We want people to remember Emily Barger and Maddie Harrill and keep the hospital doing what it does best.”
Throughout the day music lovers and motorcycle riders took in the sights at the Parkway Drive-in grounds. A motorcycle show featured an impressive array of motorcycles and a motorcycle swap shop. After the ride, Dixie Highway Band and Pistol Creek Catch of the Day entertained the crowd. For the ride, motorcyclists enjoyed a scenic tour of Blount County, and the day’s events wrapped up with an evening showing of the movie “Ghost Rider”.
Dixie Iron Riders president Mike Kirby was happy with the response and said 100 motorcycles was the most the club had ever escorted on a benefit ride. “We got here at 10 a.m., and people have been here all day. The ride went great. We had a real good turnout,” he said.
Rebecca Greene, Annual giving coordinator for the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Development Office, thanked Dixie Iron Riders for their efforts. “I’d also like to thank the Blount County Association of Realtors and (Parkway Drive-in owner) Doug Freeman,” she said.
James Harrill, whose daughter Maddie was one of the namesakes of the ride, was impressed with how the community came out to support the hospital that treated his daughter. “You don’t know people, and they still help. It’s amazing to see. This brings out the best in people,” he said.
“We wanted to keep the memory of the two girls alive and keep up the awareness of children’s cancer,” McKeehan said. “It feels good the community came out to do this.”
McKeehan, a friend of the Barger family, said she wanted to be part of finding a cure for childhood cancer. “I want to know I did my part,” she said.
Emily Barger’s dad Brian Barger said this was the first time his family had ever been a part of something like the benefit ride and show.
“Honestly, we’ve never been part of something like this” he said. “Hopefully Emily and Maddie can live on and this will be a better place because of it,” he said. “It’s amazing to see people rally around two little girls who lost their lives to this horrible disease. Hopefully one day we can find a cure.”
The major event sponsor was Strickwood Communications. Other event sponsors included Blount Wrecker Service, Foothills Wrecker Service, Awesome Bounce Arena, Farm Bureau Insurance – Gary Chandler, Texas Roadhouse, Cycle Stop, Realty Executive, Price and Associates, Jameson Inn, McAlister’s Deli, Blount Title Agency, Maryville Title Agency, Williams Realty, Alcoa Tenn Federal Credit Union, BB&T Bank, Boomerz, Huddle House and Franklin Realty.