A crowd of nearly 300 onlookers cheered as the Miracle Riders rumbled off to begin their 10,000 mile journey from Columbus to Coldfoot, Alaska.
The 17 riders on motorcycles, and two others following in a chase vehicle, will return to Columbus in August.
“Being able to go and ride and represent our community and the kids is an incredible honor for all of us,” said Scott Ressmeyer, founder of the ride. “The passion that these guys have...just, their hearts are huge. And they’re doing that for the kids in our community.”
The trip will raise money and awareness of the Methodist Home for Children & Youth of South Georgia and funds for that organization’s two Our House campuses in Columbus: Carpenter’s Way home for boys and Arabella home for girls.
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A trailer will follow the bikers, filled with painted rocks directing people to the Columbus Rocks Facebook page.
“Columbus will be scattered all over this country and Canada,” Ressmeyer said.
Also riding the trailer will be a Little Free Library, which will be donated to the city of Coldfoot on behalf of Columbus.
Before the bikers took off, Ressmeyer thanked Synovus for being the presenting sponsor of the ride.
“You can be proud to be a company that really does believe and stand by their community and goes the extra mile, because every time you turn around Synovus is there,” he told gathered employees.
He then presented Synovus CEO Kessel Sterling with his own motorcycle duster jacket, to great applause.
“Next time that he has to go to a board meeting or something where he might need to have a little bit of force, dressing like Clint Eastwood or John Wayne will probably help,” said Ressmeyer.
After a prayer for the safety of the participants, the bikers mounted their vehicles and began their journey, led by a fleet of police motorcycles and flanked by cheering spectators. They will ride to Cincinnati tonight, and continue from there all the way on to Alaska.
The ride began in 2009 when Ressmeyer set out across the nation to celebrate his 50th birthday and to raise money for the Children’s Hospital at Midtown Medical Center in Columbus. Later years brought dozens more riders and more than $1 million in donations for children’s medical services.
The riders pay for all of their own expenses during the trip, and have collectively spent more than $430,000 of their own money on the rides, according to a news release.
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE