On a warm day in late May, the air is filled with Rock Music, Pit BBQ smoke, and the pulsing thunder of V-Twin engines. Three hundred people fill the parking lot of Skyline’s Winchester Harley Davidson, home of the Winchester Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Chapter. From one side of the parking lot to the other, the crowd is filled with kids, parents, and volunteers sporting bright camp t-shirts as well as big, bearded men sporting tattoos and leather vests. The event that brings this diverse crew together is the annual “Ride for A Reason,” a beautiful motorcycle ride through the rolling hills of northwestern Virginia.
This annual charity motorcycle ride has become a tradition for motorcycle enthusiasts from across the Shenandoah Valley, benefitting the kids and families of Special Love’s community of camps and programs. And the event founder, with sunburned, tattooed arms emerging from a cutoff T-Shirt bearing a drawing by a Special Love camper, is Steve Hyson.
“I found out about Special Love (in 2011) when my company at that time wanted to get their name out in the public and told us to find any organization we wanted to support and get involved.”
As a truck driver and a biker, Steve worked with other members of the community to organize a charity event that has not only provided visibility for the Ride’s sponsors, but also increased awareness of childhood cancer and what Special Love is doing to support the kids and families affected.
Even after Steve changed companies, he kept the ride going, building a network of sponsors and riders from across the Shenandoah Valley. The ride is going on “11 years and counting” and Steve says he “has no plans of stopping.”
Beyond just the ride each spring, the Winchester H.O.G. chapter and other Motorcycle organizations from the area have shown their support each year for Camp Fantastic.
“They have supported Special Love for years, probably long before I was, as the (Winchester) HOG chapter. (Chapter Members) escort the camp buses and give kids rides every year at Camp Fantastic and the community has been behind this.”
Steve is grateful for the support the event receives each year from the Special Love team and community.
“A representative (camper) has been present every year at this event and the past couple years (Special Love) has taken a huge role in support with manning tables and raffles and have done behind the scenes leg work to help out tremendously.”
Even though Steve has not been personally affected by cancer, he and the other riders have been touched by the stories shared each year by campers and parents. When asked why he continues to support Special Love year after year, Steve says, “It’s a great organization (that) helps kids who have cancer and their families.”