Bikers with a mission

Published 4:00 am Monday, October 1, 2007

By Staff
When 90 motorcyclists and their passengers descended upon a Chocowinity campground on Saturday morning, they probably weren’t thinking about the Ebron family of Pinetown. They likely were thinking about enjoying a great ride on a perfect fall day. But Saturday’s Ride for Red was less about adventure and more about a mission. We salute both the riders in, and organizers of, the event that benefits the Beaufort County chapter of the American Red Cross, because the money raised Saturday will ultimately help families who find themselves in circumstances like the Ebrons had.
In November 2006, the Ebrons’ home on North Boyd Road was destroyed by fire. The family escaped, but had to spend Thanksgiving in a motel room. Without the Red Cross, they might not have been able to pay for that room. Without Ride for Red, the Beaufort County Red Cross would have trouble helping families who face natural disasters or tragedies like the Ebrons did.
Saturday’s ride raised about $1,800, every penny of which stays in Beaufort County, according to Sandy Fenn, the chapter’s executive director. All of the money goes straight into the Beaufort County Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. That fund is used to meet local families’ immediate needs during the first 36 or 72 hours following a catastrophic event.
That matters. It particularly matters when a person finds himself or herself in need of a helping hand.
It’s tempting for an individual to believe that he or she will never face the tragedy that the Ebrons did. But the reality is that life can turn on a dime.
Eastern North Carolinians know that as well as anyone, having seen the aftermaths of many hurricanes. Money from the disaster-relief fund goes to help victims of hurricanes, too, perhaps paying for food or clothing a person needs.
And while the county chapter sends money to the American Red Cross, that money is used so the organization can respond to disasters on a national level —tragedies such as the Sept. 11 attacks or Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast. Having that capability is important, too — absolutely important. But it’s a comfort to know there is local money available when there’s a tragedy on Beaufort County soil.
Ride for Red “inventors” Betty and Elwood Cutler, in dreaming up the event, have helped to ensure that county money will be there when needed. They, and others, have been planning the bike route (which included a ferry trip) for the last three months.
But it would not have been a success without enthusiastic riders. And there were a lot of them — triple the number who participated in last year’s inaugural event.
The success is, indeed, thrilling. Because of Ride for Red, some Beaufort County families will have help when they most need it. And Red Cross responders will know then that — truly — it’s been a great ride.