According to Sarah George of Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson the toy run there and another at H-D’s North Myrtle Beach store went well. At the Dec. 7, 4th annual event at the main dealership 223 riders (and a handful in cars) donated more than $1,000 and hundreds of toys to our local chapter of the American Red Cross.
George told me, “… we consider it a very successful event that continues to grow each year.” At the Harley Shop on the Beach location 114 motorcycle riders participated in its inaugural Toy Run. The event garnered several hundred toys and more than $1,500. The donations will be shared between North Myrtle Beach Primary School and a local non-profit organization called Teen Angel that assists North Myrtle Beach High School students classified as homeless.
Teen Angels provides essential needs, as well as the little extras that most take for granted such as school supplies, yearbooks, prom attire, and of course, Christmas gifts. Typically, these students are too old for foster care, but too young to make ends meet on their own who have committed to finishing their education. I guess I ignorantly pictured “homeless kids” as wayward teens who didn’t attend school so I apologize to and congratulate these dedicated young men and women for rising to such a challenge; and to Teen Angel and its supporters including all of you who rode in the Toy Run for being there for them. George made it a point to say, “We want to stress how hard our biker community works to support these events. Really without them and our sponsors we couldn't do this year after year.”
The Last Ride
My next column on Jan. 9 will be the final installment of Ridin’ With Big E. I submitted my first column as a freelancer to Weekly Surge in March of 2007, making my run here just short of seven years. I am calling it quits on mutually good terms. Simply put, I don’t think I will be staying in the Myrtle Beach area. There is plenty that is still yet to be determined, but following my July back surgery, my boss and my doctors have more than suggested that my days as an Emergency Medical Technician are over. While it isn’t official yet, the writing is on the wall. My wife and I are looking at options outside the area. It would be tough to leave the Grand Strand where we have lived among family and friends for 20 years, but we’re sure God is going to lead us on to bigger and better things if we do.
I went back and re-read some of my old columns and thought it would be fitting to take a little walk down Memory Lane together on my way out. The opening of my first column read, “For over sixty years Myrtle Beach has hosted what many believe to be the greatest motorcycle rally in the world: Myrtle Beach Bike Week. Close to half a million bikers, weekend warriors, and wanna-bes flood the Grand Strand… With no shortage of warm, sunny days, biker-friendly bars, weekly poker runs, and the right to ride free (helmet-free if you’re older than 21 and choose to do so) our town is a great place to have a motorcycle.” Times have certainly changed.
Two of the four biker-friendly places mentioned in that first piece are long gone (B & M Cycles and Beach Monkey); and, the rallies’ reputations are certainly tarnished, hosting a fraction of the riders and vendors they once did thanks to the black eye they got when Myrtle Beach officials started hating on bikers. Fortunately, this year I was pleased to report on the apparent, gradual rebound that is happening.
It was that original column where I introduced Sissy as “my wife and favorite riding partner”, as I would often refer to her through the years. I am happy to report that hasn’t changed. A female reader once sent me a nice e-mail saying that she always read my column and appreciated that I often mentioned my wife. Honestly, I don’t know how I could leave her out. She shares my passion; and most of the fun I have had doing so involved having her along for the adventure. Where ever life may take us, we plan to keep our motorcycle. In fact, during some lean years I made her promise to never let me sell it. I vowed if the worst case (financial) scenario took place we’d just hop on it and ride off into the sunset, away from it all. But the sun hasn’t set on us yet.
Unless something changes, in my next and final column I’ll look a little closer at some of the things I was able to share with you all, my readers, during my ride here at the Surge. Until then, have a safe and Happy New Year.