Ailing biker gets one last ride

Enthusiast has little time left

Staff writerSeptember 3, 2009 

— When Kirk Wynn can't coax his mind to work the way he wants, the frustration shows in his narrowing eyes.

An answer to a simple question may take a minute or two to formulate, even with help from his mother and father. A brain tumor will do that to a man.

But when asked whether he misses riding his Harley-Davidson, the pretty red Sportster resting on its kickstand in the garage, the words snap off his tongue.

"Hell, yeah."

So Wednesday night, a group of bikers -- some friends, some strangers -- came together to make sure Wynn could feel the breeze one last time. He rode in the sidecar of a Harley-Davidson, crossing another item off his final to-do list.

Wynn, 41, started riding dirt bikes when he was a child. Everyone in his family rode.

"I love riding motorcycles," he said, sitting in a wheelchair in his parents' living room. "I would rather ride than do anything."

Wynn's mother, Judy, said doctors gave him only three months to live after they first found a tumor, way back in 2000. He's fought it ever since and didn't have to stop riding until last year, when a stroke left him paralyzed on his right side.

Last week, doctors sent him home, saying nothing more could be done. He came up with three things he'd like to do before he has gone: have a cookout, see the beach and ride a Harley.

They had the picnic over the weekend. Nearly 60 people showed up at the house, along with 39 motorcycles. Wynn loved it. He told his mom, "Most people don't get to go to their own funeral."

Staff members from Heartland Hospice, who are helping to care for him at home, started asking around about a sidecar. It only took about a day to track one down. Johnnie Norris, who lives just outside Fuquay-Varina in Harnett County, happily volunteered.

Bikers from Wynn's riding group, No Rules Riders, joined members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association for the ride Wednesday.

Wynn's parents helped him into his black-leather vest. He wore his own helmet, long covered in stickers, the kind that boast a rider's philosophy. Among his notions: "What a long, strange journey it's been."

It took seven bikers and a physical therapist to lift him out of the wheelchair and into the sidecar. Wynn looked uncomfortable, but when asked if he was OK, he just smiled and laughed.

The bikers gathered around him for a short prayer, and then they were gone in a rumbling thunder, 17 bikes in all.

The doctors say Wynn probably has two good weeks left. The beach is calling.

matt.ehlers@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4889

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service