East Tennessee Bikers Show Volunteer Spirit

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Maryville (WVLT) -- On Saturday dozens of bikers made their own contribution to the volunteer spirit. They departed on a 90 mile ride to celebrate freedom by helping those who defend it while providing help for a new generation who can't live without it.

Leather and layers of clothing could only do so much against 38 degree wind chills.
However when the cause seemed right, 56 motorcycle riders had no problem braving Blount County's cold temperatures.

"We're wanting to give these kids a place where they can go and learn life skills," said Ed Mitchell, who sits on the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.

With that goal in mind the First Annual Boys and Girls Clubs of Blount County Motorcycle Ride kicked off with members of the Dixie Iron Riders of East Tennessee hopping down an Easter bunny trail of their own. The trail took them on a journey that began at Smoky-Mountain Harley-Davidson in Maryville and ended nearby at Pearson Springs Park.

Only $20 dollars got motorcyclists on the ride, and every penny of it went to the future of a young generation.

"A lot of the bike riders here today are 40 and 50 years old," Mitchell explained. "A lot of them said the Boys and Girls Club really has been important in their life, and that's been a success story in itself."

Also out in the cold of Maryville were Javier and Marion La Rosa who have embarked on a quest of their own to help another generation.

For the last few weeks they have been trying to raise enough money to buy an advanced type of body armor known as Dragon Skin. The body armor will go to help protect their son Alex, and the 11 other members of his Marine Squad that has been called to serve in Iraq.

As the La Rosa's discovered today while outside Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson, the generosity of East Tennesseans is not limited to a single charitable cause.

"Some of the people who were there," Javier said of the Boy's & Girls Club riders, "they were nice and they also donated."

With the help of the Dixie Iron Riders and from deeper pockets that have yet to be emptied, Javier can see that progress is being made.

"That will allow us not to order all twelve vests, but it will allow guys to get maybe seven or eight.

Cold temperatures have put a freeze on the region's weather, but it can't turn the warm hearts of East Tennesseans to ice. The La Rosa's are hoping the volunteer spirit just might exist nationwide.

Jim Lehrer, host of Public Broadcasting's News Hour wants to do his part as well. PBS will send a crew down next week to do a story on the La Rosa's efforts to help out a whole unit headed to Iraq.

If you would like to help the La Rosa's cause you can call them at 865-766-9840 or make a donation through any Sun Trust bank by asking to donate to the "For Our 12 Marines" account.

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