Wednesday, October 5, 2016

a memorial bike ride

Back in 2009 my brother was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) and within weeks of his devastating news our family and friends put together a team and walked in our first walk to raise funds. Now every September we do the closest ALS walk.  The JayWalkers have now walked in eight consecutive annual walks.  Our walk is small compared to some in the larger metro areas but our walk 40 teams, had over 700 walkers and raised over $100,000. 

Two years ago we participated in the wildly successful ice bucket challenge to raise awareness and raise funds for ALS.  Jay's former co-workers also raised money and did a group challenge at work.  We were invited to watch everyone get wet.  They raised over $600. 

This year a group of Jay's motorcycle friends put together a ride in his memory.  It is the first annual Jay Lenning Memorial Ride.  The picture below is the 'formal' picture taken at the first of four stops along the route.  My brother had a motorcycle from the time that he was 12 years old.  The first one was a minibike.  The last two were his beloved Harley Davidsons.  His bike is the one on the far left in this picture.  After his death my sister sold her motorcycle and bought his.    

There is a local bar that is frequented by riders and Jay was a part of this group.  When Jay was no longer able to walk they purchased a ramp so that his motorized wheelchair could make it into the bar.  There is a bar stool there with his name on it in memory.  It was the staff of this bar that conceived the idea of a memorial ride and put it all together. The bar's owner donated the pig for the hog roast. The riders were his many friends.  They contacted businesses for donations and paid to ride and paid to eat.  In total, more than $2400 was raised. 

Yesterday we met at the bar to witness the presentation of the check to a member from the ALS Association for our region.  Our family couldn't be more proud of this group of bikers.  They were great friends to Jay during his illness and so supportive of his widow after his death. Some people might be intimidated by the black leathers and bandanas but a better group of people would be hard to find.  The day of our ride there was another group riding for charity as well and this picture shows our riders' bikes parked on one side of the street and the other group's bikes across the street. 
I am not a rider.  I was in a pickup that followed behind.  I failed to get a close up picture of my sister on the ride.  The picture below is my youngest daughter, Caitlin, and her guy, Robb.  Robb has a motorcycle and Cait rides behind.  So glad that they were able to join us. 


  1. What a lovely tribute to your brother and a great way to honor his memory and help the greater cause.

    1. Thanks, Kim. We think so too. Jay had a lot of great friends. His co-workers loved him and his riding friends were like family members to him. I think that bikers have a reputation that they don't deserve. In many cases that slightly rough exterior covers up a wonderful heart and giving soul. When you see the videos of Rolling Thunder and the groups that protect the funerals from that anti-gay Baptist 'church' and the groups protecting abused kids it never ceases to amaze me.