Scott's Ride for Miracles: 12 bikers begin cross-country ride today

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comMay 3, 2013 

One charm is a tiny foot. The other is a tiny hand.

Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley carries them with him everywhere.

"I take them off the dresser and put them in my pocket whether I am in uniform or jeans," he said.

He said he carries them for good luck. Most of all, they are reminders of the Children's Miracle Network, a cause he feels very strongly about. The charms were made from molds of a foot and hand of a baby born prematurely at less than two pounds.

Many children have been saved because of equipment provided by CMN.

Today at noon, in front of The Medical Center in Columbus, the fifth annual Scott's Ride For Miracles, a 21-day, 9,000-mile cross-country motorcycle ride that raises awareness and money to benefit CMN, will begin.

There will be 12 riders.

It will be the fourth time Jolley is participating. Founder Scott Ressmeyer, co-owner of Country's Barbecue, made the first trip on his own.

While all of the trips have been special for Ressmeyer, this one has some extra significance. His father, well-known chiropractor Robert Ressmeyer, died at age 74 on April 12. The doctor was not a motorcycle rider but was a supporter of the CMN cause and had wished aloud that he could go on such a trip.

The doctor's ashes will come along for the ride with his son spreading them throughout 48 states.

"Some might think it is morbid," Scott Ressmeyer said. "We think it is cool and something my father would like."

Something else unique for this trip will be that today an American flag will be flown above the U.S. Capitol, and it will be presented to Ressmeyer and the riders when they arrive in Washington on May 22, just two days before the end of the ride.

Ressmeyer said the route being taken is a little different this year. There will be some new stops but some familiar ones as well. At those stops, riders will talk to people in local businesses about CMN.

So far the rides have raised more than $430,000 for neonatal and pediatric services at The Medical Center.

Jolley said he likes visiting hospitals on the route. The riders go to high-risk nurseries and pediatric wards.

"It is great when you see the joy on the faces of the children when they know that there is somebody out there, somebody they don't know, who cares about them," Jolley said. "I know I can't see those children, then stand on the sideline."

Like the others, Jolley uses vacation time for the ride and pays all of his own expenses.

When he sees some of the children, he knows how lucky he has been to have healthy children and grandchildren, he said. However, one of his grandchildren, just a month old, will soon need heart surgery. "You never know when something like that is going to reach out and touch you," Jolley said.

Jolley also participates in rides for the Georgia Sheriffs' Association Youth Homes and for breast care awareness.

He said the first Ride for Miracles he went on was rough as the riders battled snow, rain, wind and sand, but the other trips have been more pleasant, though still exhausting.

Ressmeyer said the first few days and the last few are the toughest. He said he and the other riders are not bothered too much by the elements.

"This has always been about the babies and the children," Ressmeyer said. "Riding through rain, hail, wind and around tornadoes is nothing compared to what some of these little ones endure every day. Their strength and perseverance are what inspire us 365 days a year, but particularly over the 21 days we are on the road. We battle for those who need a little extra help in their fight, and maybe someday they will get to hop on a motorcycle or run in a race or write a check or organize an event that will do the same for someone else."

Jolley said some people see the riders clad in dark dusters as heroes. "The real heroes are those people who work in the hospitals," Jolley said.

Besides Jolley, joining Ressmeyer on this ride will be Mike Langford of Cataula, Ga.; Larry Suits, Rick Stinson, Brian Brock, Raymond Eckel and Butch Thomas of Columbus; Gary McDowell of Manchester, Ga.; James Cole and Brad Hansen of Midland, Ga.; and Ronnie Wilson of Salem, Ala.

The riders will also contribute to a blog to journal their travels. People interested in following their blogs or making a donation may log onto www.rideformiracles.com. Once the journey begins, people may visit the site to track the riders' route in real time.

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