When the 2016 Hospice Memorial Ride roared off the SOMC Hospice parking lot Saturday, the memory of one Ricky Bryan was leading the way. The event has grown from around 20 riders the first year to over 500 participants nine years later.
Loren Hardin, Hospice Social Workers, remembers the original run like it was yesterday.
“He was about 57 years old, an old Harley (Davidson) rider. He had no insurance. We helped him free of charge. We did everything free,” Hardin said.
Hardin got a call from Bryan’s nurse who told him Ricky wanted to see him. So he made the trek to Ricky’s house at Upper Twin Creek, and the two of them sat across a table in front of an old wood-burning stove in an old house borne out of bankruptcy caused by medical problems.
“I want to organize a poker run to pay you guys back for what you’ve done for me and my family,” Bryan told Hardin. Bryan had chose May 3 for the date because that was his birthday and his intention was to ride in the event, but he didn’t make it.
“His bike, an old Harley, his friends loaded up on a trailer and turned his boots backwards in honor of a fallen rider,” Hardin said.
“We’re expecting close to 500 participants this year, hopefully 400 bikes,” Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Scott Hilbert said.
All of the money raised from the run goes directly into SOMC Hospice.
“It goes directly into our patient care,” Hilbert said. “There are a lot of things that insurances are not able to cover and Hospice is able to step in and help out, so 100 percent goes back into helping our patients are their families.”
Next to a military unit, there is probably no more camaraderie than what you will find among those who climb onto a motorcycle.
“Often times when people think of Hospice, they just think of the end result,” Hilbert said. “This is something where we’re able to remember our loved ones, whether it be family members or friends, and it’s truly a remarkable opportunity to see the community come together and see everybody having an enjoyable time.”
Portsmouth attorney Tracy Hoover and his wife, Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge Marie Hoover, had their helmets on and were ready to ride.
“This is what it’s all about,” Tracy Hoover said. “You can feel a spirit here that’s way beyond individuals here. They’re doing this for everybody else and just being a part of it is kind of an honor.”
Does Tracy Hoover feel comfortable on a two-wheeler, being an old race car driver?
“I was born on a motorcycle. Been on them my whole life,” Tracy Hoover said. “There’s nothing really that replaces the riding of a motorcycle. It’s where I go for therapy, meditation, I pray a lot inside that helmet. I’ve been close to death inside that helmet a few times and I think you meet God. So I’m pretty comfortable in there and I like it.”
The same goes for Marie Hoover.
“It’s for a good cause, and I love to ride,” Marie Hoover said. “I actually have a motorcycle license, but he doesn’t like me to drive (a motorcycle). He feels a lot better when I’m a passenger. It’s a great turnout today.”
Everyone kept one eye on control of their bikes and one eye looking to heaven for that predicted downpour, but no one’s spirits were dampened. In all there were 310 participants, 200 motorcycles and they raised $39,750.
“We are supported by our community,” Hilbert said. “We love the community and the community loves us. Its nice to have something like this to pay our respects.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.