Community members give back
By Maribeth Ward, Staff Writer
Twenty-five year old Erin Hilton will be attending a special camp at Bradford Woods for handicapped persons this summer thanks to a group of motorcycle riders. Sponsored by Custom Cycle of Greencastle, the seventh Annual Run for Fun took place last Saturday with more than 80 bikers riding to raise money for Hilton who has Cerebral Palsy.
Scott and Lisa Eaton, owners of Custom Cycle started the event seven years ago after Lisa was diagnosed with Multiple Scorocis. "It was such a lifestyle adjustment. I learned what it was to have a disability. So many friends, family and (Motorcycle) riders helped me know I was ok. I wanted to give some of the happiness back that they had given to me," she acknowledged.
Run for Fun is designed to provide funds to a special needs person in Putnam County. "We put out the word that we are looking for someone to sponsor and people come to us," claims Eaton. "Putnam County Comprehensive Services (PCCS) gives us names, we might contact the schools or we hear about someone," she adds.
In Hilton's case the Eatons met her through another biker group called Faith Riders. Sandy Howery, PCCS is a member of the group. She knew Hilton who is confined to a wheelchair and speaks with a special device called a Pathfinder. Howery took Hilton to church with her. It was there she met other Faith Riders and those riders told the Eatons about the girl who wanted to go to a special summer camp. "We met Erin and fell in love with her," claims Eaton who plans the event. Her husband Scott plots the route and handles the actual ride.
As sixty riders roared out of Custom Cycle with a police escort twenty more riders joined the group as they wound 122 miles through several counties. The group eventually ended at T-Bones Bar and Grill in Cloverdale for dinner and a bike show. The highlight of the day came at the bike show following the ride when T.J. Smith won best of show and was presented with a special medal from Hilton. This was Smith's first bike, first ride and first show. "He was so touched to have his bike chosen by Erin as her favorite. There wasn't a dry eye among any of these big old tough bikers," declared Eaton.
Oddly, another group benefited from the ride as well. Something happened with the food catering for the event and the Family Youth Community Development Program (FYCDP), who was sponsoring a barbeque and bake sale at Wal-Mart, were contacted to send all their food to the group at T-Bones. According to a board member of the FYCDP, the sale wasn't going as well as they hoped. When the bikers request came in, they wrapped up all their food and sent it over making a profit for the day.
The ride, according to the Eatons, "was phenomenal. The outpouring from the community was so great. We appreciate the support from all the sponsors and the help. We feel it is a privilege to give back to the community. We appreciate our riders and their benevolence and look forward to seeing them all next year."
Local sponsors included Arby's, The Auto Store/Jerry Spackman, Bumgardner's Auto Service, Carquest, Custom Cycle, DK Beetle, F-5 Band, Humphrey's Outdoors, John's Trophies, Jackie and Wally Knight, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chris Kramper, Kim and Judy, Fran and Lou Love, Mike's Tire & Service, Mark Nogelmeier and Neil Tire. Also Papa John's, Pizza Hut, Putnam County Senior Center, Putnam County Convention and Visitor Bureau, R.J. Sharpee, Steve's Towing and Dan Stockton/Abate Region 6.
"I'm sorry if I missed anyone," claims Eaton. "There were just so many people who gave. It was just so incredible. We even had another motorcycle club from outside the county join us. The BFMC Club came to support Erin. They heard about the ride from Greencastle Police Officer Albert Epple."
With tears in her eyes, Eaton acknowledged, "It was all just so incredible. Erin will be going to camp this summer and enough money was raised to buy all her supplies plus new batteries for her motorized wheelchair and Pathfinder. It was just such a beautiful day!"