Dixie Iron Riders mobilize motorcycle community to benefit Greenback tornado victims

Grace Coada escaped what is left of her home after the Blount County Fire Department kicked in her door. Grace said she had been in her bedroom before the tornado hit when her cat, Bubba, started acting strange and crying to get in the house. Grace left her bedroom and went to the front of the house to let the cat in, opening the door just as the tornado hit, knocking her into the front room. The house was picked up from its foundation and dropped in her front yard, as seen in the photo to the right. Bubba is still missing.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Grace Coada escaped what is left of her home after the Blount County Fire Department kicked in her door. Grace said she had been in her bedroom before the tornado hit when her cat, Bubba, started acting strange and crying to get in the house. Grace left her bedroom and went to the front of the house to let the cat in, opening the door just as the tornado hit, knocking her into the front room. The house was picked up from its foundation and dropped in her front yard, as seen in the photo to the right. Bubba is still missing.

They want it to be the biggest motorcycle ride they’ve ever done.

The Dixie Iron Riders, who have been organizing charity motorcycle rides since 2006, want to roar into Greenback with more than 100 motorcycles next Sunday to benefit the victims of the F-3 tornado that swept through Greenback Wednesday night.

Dixie Iron Riders president Mike Kirby and public information officer Bill Kilgore met with several community and business people Friday afternoon to start planning the event. Funds raised will go to the Disaster Relief Fund of the Blount County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Kirby said the Dixie Iron Riders members wanted to help those affected by the disaster

“It made us think, what would we do in that situation? We thought we could do something in the motorcycle community to help,” he said. “Motorcycle riders react swiftly. We hope what we do can help them in their relief. All money we make goes through the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, and they’ll dispense the money where it is needed the most.”

Kirby said putting together a charity motorcycle ride usually takes quite a bit of time to organize. “We’re trying to plan this in a week, which is unheard of, and we’re trying to make it the biggest ride we’ve ever done,” he said.

The ride on Sunday, April 3, will start the line up at 12:30 p.m. at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson. The motorcycles will leave at 2 p.m. “We’ll head toward Greenback, and let everyone get a first-hand account of what our neighbors are facing. Then we’ll take a 30- or 40-mile ride. After the ride, we’re coming back to the American Red Cross at Robert C. Jackson Drive for hotdogs and drinks,” he said.

Kirby said Kroger of Maryville is supplying the food and co-manager Lynn Cox is cooking the hotdogs for the riders. “Then we’ll cook more food and deliver it to the workers and families at the disaster,” Kirby said.

There is a $25 donation per motorcycle and $5 donation per passenger for the event. For information, visit the Dixie Iron Riders on Facebook or go to www.redcrossblount.org.

To aid residents and volunteers working in the areas affected by the tornado, the tetanus vaccine is being offered for free at the Blount County Health Department.

The free tetanus vaccinations are available to any Blount County resident living in or volunteering in the devastated areas hit by the recent tornado. Residents and volunteers can go by the Blount County Health Department between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. today, Monday, March 28, and Tuesday, March 29. They need to indicate that they are either a resident in the affected area or are volunteering in the efforts to clean up.

The Blount County Health Department is located at 302 McGee St., Maryville, and can be reached at 865-983-4582.

Residents living in the damaged area of Loudon County may also receive the free tetanus vaccination by going to the Loudon County Health Department. Questions can be directed to the Blount County Mayor’s office at 865-273-5700.

Freelance photographer Jolanda Jansma toured the area struck by the tornado and captured these images and personal stories.

© 2011 blounttoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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