The United Way of Blount County board meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 22, could have been your normal board of directors meeting.
But when the board president is Brenda Sellars and Jim Ford adds a Harley to the mix, well, things got entertaining.
Within the hour, members of the board had donated $50 to see board member Joy Bishop seated on the 2001 Soft Tail Deuce Harley sporting a helmet and dark shades and mugging for the camera. Jean Williamson, vice president of Community Impact, took her turn flashing her best “biker” look as well.
United Way Back Roads Motorcycle Ride Committee co-chairs Jim Ford and Tara Rasher revved up the excitement at the board meeting, just as they have been doing in the community for the upcoming event that offers bikers and non-bikers a way to have a good time and help the United Way campaign.
“We brought my motorcycle in just to try to get the board revved up,” said Ford. “And we wanted to get them motivated about the motorcycle ride like we are. I managed to get the motorcycle inside, and, from that point, several of the members got on the motorcycle and did ‘biker portraits,’ and everybody loved it. Everybody was offering donations to see Joy (Bishop) sit on the bike.”
Bishop’s turn on the bike brought in almost $50.
Ford said they are on target and optimistic as far as number of riders and are hoping for even more community participation at the barbecue following the ride at Courtyard Grill on Alcoa Highway.
Rasher, who rides a 2002 Low Rider Harley-Davidson, said that including the Dixie Iron Riders, the motorcycle riding organization that escorts charity rides, there are about 50 riders signed up so far. Rasher and Ford are hoping for about 100 riders in the event.
“If someone doesn’t ride, we have a lot of different things to interest folks,” Ford said. “You can come to the end of the ride and enjoy the barbecue and bid on sports memorabilia and silent auction items and enjoy music by Pistol Creek Catch of the Day. All of it helps us raise money for United Way.”
Ride registration on Sunday, Sept. 26, is from 12:30 to 2 p.m. The motorcycles leave The Shed at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson at 2 p.m. for a two-hour tour of Blount County. All riders should be at the finish point at Courtyard Grill on Alcoa Highway by 4 p.m. Barbecue will be available, and there will be a silent auction of sports memorabilia. Entertainment will be provided by Pistol Creek Catch of the Day.
Rasher said when she and Ford organized the inaugural ride three years ago, they wanted to ultimately grow it to where the ride raised more than $10,000, or as much money as the United Way Golf Tournament and the Public Service Luncheon.
Rasher thanked the committee members of the United Way Back Roads Ride for helping make the event possible. “This committee has been pleasure to work with. We have so many diverse people on our committee, and we have so much fun when we meet,” she said.
“It’s all about getting in the community and doing what we can and working together to make things happen,” Ford said.
Ford singled out Joe Zappa of Joseph Construction for always helping with barbecue. “He’s been with this thing since there were 3 riders,” he said.
For information and to register to ride, visit the United Way of Blount County offices at 1615 E. Broadway Ave., Maryville, call 865-982-2251 or visit the website at liveunitedblount.org/bikeride. Barbecue tickets are being sold now through Thursday.
Barbecue only tickets are $10. Cost for the ride is $25 per rider and $15 per extra rider, which includes the ride, a gift, barbecue, a concert and a ticket to win a door prize.