09/13/09 — Guardian Brotherhood bikers raise funds for MOPH with run

View Archive

Guardian Brotherhood bikers raise funds for MOPH with run

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on September 13, 2009 2:00 AM

Full Size


Guardian Brotherhood motorcycle club members and other bikers line up for the start of their 90-mile poker run. The run took them through five counties Saturday. The money raised will be donated to the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

It has been 18 years since Keith Wade traded the roar of jet engines for the rumble of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, but the Air Force veteran has never forgotten his years of service, or the brotherhood and camaraderie he learned in the military.

"I'm very patriotic," he said, sitting astride his sleek, powerful machine. Wade pointed out the red, white and blue-embossed medal on the motorcycle's side that marked it as a 2007 Patriot Edition Harley, a special bike that was sold only to veterans as a symbol of the strong ties between many biking groups and the military.

It was a relationship echoed Saturday morning in the throaty purr of dozens more motorcycle engines as veterans, patriots and bike enthusiasts rolled into the Heroes parking lot on Berkeley Boulevard for the start of the Defenders of Freedom poker run, a fundraiser collecting money for the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

This year marked the third time the Guardian Brotherhood, a community outreach riding group, has worked to raise money for the worthy cause.

Organizers Jim Loper, Jamie Farnell and Nick Ward settled on a poker run because "it's just a biker thing," Ward said.

Each rider paid $10 a hand, with prizes going to the best and worst hand of cards of the day. The stops included DD's, Wendy Trails, Hogs Pen and Open Road Biker Gear. The group also planned a car and bike show and custom paint raffle, with painting donated by Ward himself.

All proceeds will go to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, which provides programs and services for wounded soldiers, including transporting them home to spend Christmas with their families.

"We've had a tremendous showing of support," Ward said.

Most of the riders, like Wade and his wife, Debbie, had personal reasons for joining the run. The couple have two sons in the military, one recently returned from Afghanistan and another stationed at Shaw Air Force Base.

Active duty Airman Brian Herson and his son, Weston, weren't part of the group, but still came out for the poker run.

Weston wasn't sure what the big day was all about, but that didn't matter to him as he perched on the back of his father's motorcycle, already wearing his helmet.

"I swooped by and got him," Herson said.

He was just excited to ride with his dad, Weston said.

Don Sperry, now retired from the Air Force, was stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base for two decades and today is very active in the biking community.

The poker run was an important event for him -- even though he is not very good at poker.

"I never win anything," he joked.

When people think of bikers, the image conjured in their minds is often one of the Hell's Angels or similar groups. But that's not the image the Guardian Bro-therhood and the other riding groups participating in the poker run want, Sperry said.

The Guardian Brother-hood also serves as a mentorship program and support network for younger members of the organization, offering them help in times of need and guidance in how to be a biker and good citizen.