Rally in the Valley drew 38 motorcycle riders to Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson for a mini-Relay for Life that raised awareness and money for cancer research.
Organizer Linda Harris, a Health Information Manager with the Transitional Care Unit at Morningview Village assisted living facility, said Relay members from the unit worked hard at the April 17 event.
“It was a good success. This is something I’ve thought of for many years, and I wanted to try,” said Harris. “I just never stuck my foot out there and tried. Last year we tried it and got so disappointed because we only raised $300.”
Harris said she thought a motorcycle ride would be a good way to get the word out about Relay for Life and cancer to individuals she never saw at the traditional Relay events - motorcycle enthusiasts.
With encouragement from others, Harris decided to push on with a different tactic this year. She focused her energy on bringing a mini-Relay type event to the Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson dealership to make motorcyclists more aware of fundraising for cancer research, Harris said.
“We had survivors sign up, and we explained what Relay is about and where the money that is raised goes,” she said. “We had a ceremony after the ride and had survivors come up. It was very uplifting, and we made $1,200 this year. It was so successful. I was thrilled to death.”
Harris said many bikers asked questions about Relay and cancer research. “We had people who came from out-of-state. We even had a Best Looking bike contest and gave away a trophy,” she said.
Texas Roadhouse gave free appetizers to all participants and all the riders appeared to enjoy the event.
Harris said many of the riders told her they were used to riding for charities and bringing items to donate, but in this case, Relay team members from Blount County gave to them. In particular, the Relay volunteers gave cancer survivors and motorcycle enthusiasts survivor medallions like they get at the main Relay for Life event.
“They understood,” said Harris. “A lot of people who didn’t know what Relay was learned about it. I felt good that we touched a lot of people.”
Harris said motorcycle enthusiasts are a tight-knit group of people. “They’re family, and if you reach one, you can reach many,” she said.