RALEIGH — The 200 motorcyclists who took to the streets of North Raleigh Sunday afternoon were rebels with a cause.
Speeding along the hills of northern Wake Countys country roads, the riders raised money for the Pretty in Pink Foundation, which provides financial assistance for uninsured or underinsured breast cancer patients.
It was the sixth annual Raleigh Pink Ribbon Ride, but its not the only ride that brings motorcyclists together for a good cause. Last year, the event raised $17,000.
Between June and November, there are more than 150 charity rides scheduled statewide, giving motorcyclists an excuse to take a police-escorted ride through red lights and stop signs while raising money for a foundation, a scholarship fund or a church ministry.
A lot of people think bikers are hardcore, but were not. If we were hardcore, we wouldnt be doing this, said Teresa Stone, who went on the ride with her husband, Jimmy Stone.
Ron Medlin was on his second Pink Ribbon Ride. He has also done a Marine Toys for Tots foundation ride and the annual Officer Down motorcycle ride, which benefits local charities benefitting law enforcement.
Its a win-win situation. You pay a little money for a good cause, and you get to ride with a big group, Medlin said.
The caravan took off from Scooters Bar and Grill off of Atlantic Avenue and crossed over Falls Lake and into Wake Forest as drivers honked in favor of the cause while others pulled over to wave through their sun roofs.
Careening down hills at 65 miles per hour in a 45 zone, the wind whipped enough to cool off the riders in the 90-degree weather.
Survivors and mourners
Medlin wasnt just supporting a meaningful charity. Like many who participated in the ride, breast cancer hits close to home. His girlfriend, like many of the women at the event, is a breast cancer survivor.
Dozens of survivors attended, many sporting black shirts with the pink word survivor etched across the chest. Some helped with the silent auction and the raffle, while others hopped on the backs of their husbands motorcycles.
And the disease isnt just a threat to women. Deb Scara, a six-year breast cancer survivor, and her husband used to ride together until he died of breast cancer 15 years ago. She helped organize the fundraiser and rode her own bike.
Scara said shell use the Pink Ribbon Ride as an opportunity to tell men, a large segment of the motorcycle-riding population, about male breast cancer awareness.
I lost my husband because the doctor didnt detect it. Every chance I get, I tell men, early detection saves you. Thats what saved me, Scara said.
Sue Jennings, a five-year breast cancer survivor, has been riding motorcycles for five or six years. She said it only makes sense for motorcyclists to get involved in charity events because theyre a tight-knit community.
Motorcyclists are people who support charitable causes more than anybody else. You get a group like this together, and its not only the money, its the support. Everyone is here for somebody else, Jennings said. You wont find a more loyal bunch of folks.
That loyalty was apparent in a group of guys who came out in support of their riding buddy who had just lost his wife to breast cancer.
Dennis Batalias wife, Marissa, died on May 2 after a brief battle with metastatic breast cancer. Having taken care of her while she was sick, he hadnt been out on his bike until two weeks before the Pink Ribbon Ride.
He couldnt stop thinking about her during the ride, he said.
I was thinking about my wife, and all the people that survived this, Batalias said. I think about all the people that are going through the treatments. I hope one day this (disease) will be looked at as having happened years ago but doesnt happen anymore.
As he teared up, his friends tried to comfort him, telling him that the ride was worthwhile. Batalias friend Brad Morris said his story could inspire others.
What if one other person supports this (cause) just because of your story? Morris asked.