The following narrative reveals how GWRRA Chapter TN-C “Wings Across Tennessee” Ride originated.
On a Thursday evening during the summer of 1996, Mike Taylor mentioned how rewarding it would be if GWRRA Chapter TN-C could do something to help the children at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis Tennessee. Several ideas were suggested. Members of TN-C chose to organize a “cruise-in” and take pictures of the motorcycles and cars participating for the cause, then sell the pictures for donations to St Jude. The “cruise-in” was held at Pizza Inn in Elizabethton Tennessee.
Mike Taylor made contact with Dot Xiques (pronounced Hickus) at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital to inquire if GWRRA Chapter TN-C members could ride their motorcycles to the Hospital and present the money they had collected. Dot’s reply was, “I don’t know about a motorcycle group coming here. This has never been done before. I will have to check to see if this is okay.” Dot received approval for TN-C members to make the ride to the Hospital. On a Friday morning in October 1996, the group headed to Memphis. Keith Marsh, James Daughtery, Larry Roberts and Mike Taylor rode their motorcycles. Nyoka Holder, Carolyn Taylor and Ginger (a patient of St Jude living in Elizabethton Tennessee) accompanied them in a van. Jon and Nancy Byrd rode their motorcycle from Florida to Lebanon Tennessee and joined the others traveling to St Jude.
On the following Saturday morning, the group arrived at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. While in the parking lot, the group opened their pockets to add to the previous money collected and proudly presented $5,000 to St Jude. They personally met St Jude correspondents, Dot Xiques and Chris House. These St Jude correspondents offered the group a heartwarming tour of the Hospital. Keith Eggerton (a staff member at St Jude) grasped the “cruise-in” concept and expanded it to a slogan still used today. The slogan is entitled “Cruisin’ for St Jude”. The unpretentious slogan was adopted to appeal to all future motorcycle groups interested in raising funds and traveling to St Jude.
In 1997 the TN-C Chapter Director, Tom Jarrell, named our ride “Wings Across Tennessee” … in view of the fact that the ride actually travels across the entire State of Tennessee (from Bristol to Memphis). During the past twenty (20) years, Chapter TN-C has hosted many charity events to raise funds for St Jude and some of our TN-C ladies make quilts and pillowcases to sell in honor of someone or in memory of someone for a donation made to Chapter TN-C to present to St Jude. Our “Wings Across Tennessee” ride has grown by leaps and bounds. During our September 2016 ride, we registered 106 riders (including other motorcycle groups traveling with Chapter TN-C). We are blessed to have the support and assistance of law enforcement agencies all across the State to keep our riders safe. Our charity events allowed us to present over $100,000 to St Jude in September 2016. We plan to host additional charity events this year in anticipation of collecting extra funds to present during our September 2017 “Wings Across Tennessee” St Jude ride.
Everyone is invited to ride with Chapter TN-C as we journey across the State for this remarkable cause!
Contact Jerry Fleenor/Chapter TN-C Ride Coordinator for additional information @ 423-340-1149
Send E-Mail Inquiries to Jerry Fleenor @ firstname.lastname@example.org