09/11/11 — They are riding for Jacob

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They are riding for Jacob

By Gary Popp
Published in News on September 11, 2011 12:58 AM

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Katherine Floars gives her husband, Allen, a hug before the start of the first-ever Jacob's Run. They are the parents of Jacob Floars, who was killed in a car accident on Oct. 10, 2010.

As motorcycles rolled into Shelton's Harley-Davidson Saturday morning and leather-clad men and women filled the parking lot, Allen Floars saw his nearly year-long effort come to fruition.

Since the first of the year, Floars has been organizing Jacob's Run, a motorcycle ride to memorialize the 17-year-old son he lost in an automobile accident in October 2010.

"It has taken a lot of phone calls and a lot of miles on the highway to get this together," Floars said. "It has been worth every bit of work that we have put into it."

The event also raised about $7,500, according to early estimates, for University Health Systems Children's Hospital in Greenville.

Floars said since he is no longer able to help his own son, he wanted the money raised during the bike run to go to children in need.

The bike run started at Shelton's and ended at the Harley-Davidson shop in Winterville, with a stop at the children's hospital to allow some of the patients to see the motorcycle riders.

The process of organizing the event has been one of personal transition for Floars. Along the way, he said he has met others who also have experienced the loss of a child.

"It has changed my life. I think I am less selfish, and I care more about other people. It has opened my eyes to the needs of other people," Floars said.

And even though Jacob is gone now, Floars said he would be proud of his father.

"I just wish he was around to see the transformation God has made in our lives," Floars said. "I think that is something he always wanted."

Floars said he was satisfied with the outcome at the event, which included about 225 motorcycles and more than 400 people.

"It is a great feeling to have done this. We are just overwhelmed," Floars said.

Floars said he was hesitant, at first, to accept any help organizing the bike run, but as the event began to grow, the planning soon turned into a community effort.

"Our whole church has been great and really supportive," Floars said of First Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Floars said the church's motorcycle ministerial group, of which he is a member, was instrumental in organizing the event.

Ros Ballance is one of the many M-25 motorcycle club members who have been supportive of the Floars family since the loss of Jacob.

"Sometimes, Allen would call three or four times a day," Ballance said of Floars' commitment to making the ride a success.

While the church community has served as a refuge for the Floars family, including Jacob's mother, Catherine, and his sister, Jessica, it is the family who has inspired others, Ballance said.

"This family has blessed my heart. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for themselves, they have taken the memory of their son and done something positive to help others. My hat goes off to them. Allen and Catherine have done a great job," he said.

Ballance said the M-25 members strive to be a positive influence in the community.

"We are always saying, 'We want to get outside the walls and do something,' and this is one of the ways we do that," Ballance said.

Family friend Bobby Pittman was willing to come hundreds of miles to show his support for the Floars family. Pittman rode his motorcycle from Wauchula, Fla., more than 700 miles away, to be part of the ride.

He said the planning of the event has been therapeutic for his lifelong friend.

"I think it has helped ease his pain, and it is helping keep Jacob's memory alive," Pittman said.

Pittman said it was important to him to show his support for the Floars family.

"You couldn't find a better, close-knit family," he said. "They are what a family is supposed to be."

Pittman said the Floars family has always made it point to be there for others, so it only fitting that so many people showed up to support them.

Floars said he is appreciative of all those who took part in Jacob's Run, including the Goldsboro Police Department and Wayne County Sheriff's Office, who escorted the riders.

"This has really touched a lot of people's hearts," Floars said. "And, I credit the lord Jesus Christ with allowing all of this to come together."