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Motorcycle clubs rev up for 2020 seniors

LAPLACE — Several motorcycle clubs and riders joined forces this month to rev their engines in support of graduating seniors and deserving children across the region.

Surprise motorcycle parades made quarantine graduations feel a little like Mardi Gras. Over the last two weekends, the New Orleans Harley Davidson ride-by group has reached more than 70 children, including approximately 35 children in LaPlace.

In addition to riding through St. John the Baptist Parish, the group has surprised deserving children in St. Charles, Jefferson and Orleans parishes. Rides will continue every weekend through June 14, according to organizer Amanda Hill.

The impact made thus far has surpassed Hill’s expectations. What started as an idea inspired by drive-by car parades has grown larger than she could have imagined.

Riding by on her motorcycle, Hill has seen girls with happy tears streaming down their faces and young men jumping up and down in excitement like a wide-eyed kid on Christmas morning. Parents preserved special moments with videos posted to social media and heartfelt notes to let the riders know that their presence made the day unforgettable.

“We revved up our bikes, we were honking our horns and we had music playing. It’s been amazing to see the parents’ and the kids’ faces,” Hill said. “Talking to the parents, we’ve learned these children are honor roll students. They’ve been accepted to college, or they are joining the military. I thought that it was great, especially during this pandemic, that they are still striving to be better. It was nice to meet these kids and put smiles on their faces.”

MarNeka Martin of LaPlace was one of the first parents to arrange a motorcycle ride-by through the group. She wanted to honor her daughter, Alanni Martin, who will attend Dillard University on a track scholarship this fall.

Martin said the parade was so touching, it brought her daughter to tears.

“It really meant a lot for them to come and show her that support,” Martin said. “For them to take time out of their schedules to do this for the seniors since they are not having normal graduations says a lot about who they are, not just as bikers, but as individuals.”

It wasn’t only seniors that the motorcyclists reached out to. A bike parade in front of the LaPlace Home Depot earlier this month honored Rylee B., a little boy with a rare genetic muscle disorder. A biker from Shriners was even able to come out to make his day special.

While the event was coordinated through New Orleans Harley Davidson with assistance from Amy Troia, the bike parades featured riders from the Green Knights, the Freedom Riders MC and the Freedom Cruisers RC, in addition to numerous individual riders from the River Region.

“It was rewarding to meet new bikers and be able to network,” Hill said. “All of these bike clubs are based out of New Orleans. We had many individual bikers from LaPlace who came out, rode all the way to New Orleans, and all the way back to LaPlace just for the kids. We also had people come from as far as Hammond, Zachary and Slidell.”

Hill is grateful that New Orleans Harley Davidson helped make it possible, since the surge of phone calls from interested community members quickly outgrew the resources of her small motorcycle circle.

“I have a ton of ideas, but normally I just let them go to the wayside. This one, I really wanted to make happen,” Hill said. “People were interested. I posted it to Facebook, and it just blew up overnight.”

The initiative has expanded to encompass birthday parties and eighth grade, kindergarten and preschool graduations. To participate or request a ride-by before June 14, pleasevisit the Ride with NOHD for 2020 High School Graduates and Deserving Kids Facebook page.