LAPEL – Revving up their engines to help two local boys fight brain cancer, members of the Lapel Eagles are hosting a motorcycle ride on Saturday. Although this is the first benefit ride for the club, Bob Turner, organizer, has planned similar events at various locations for 10 years.
“I met Van Green at a fundraiser at church,” said Turner. “And then later we found another boy with the same kind of brain cancer – and it’s a pretty rare kind. We decided to have a benefit and split the money between the families.”
Van is four years old and has been fighting medulloblastoma since October 24. He has undergone a surgery to remove the tumor and another to implant a port. He has endured six weeks of radiation and ten months of chemotherapy. Potentially, he will be done on December 26 – after which he will need to follow up with nine doctors to ensure the chemotherapy doesn’t affect his body negatively.
Johnathon Binnion, 6, has a very similar story. Diagnosed in early August of last year, he has also borne two surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy and hopes to be done sometime in October.
“Once you’ve been impacted by this and you find someone else going through the same thing, you are all going to work together,” said Kristi Clouse, Van’s mother. “You know what they are going through. It’s not easy.”
Surprised by Turner’s offer to stage a benefit, Clouse was touched by the gesture.
“It is pretty awesome,” she said. “In January he was a complete stranger. He said he wanted to do something to help and then he followed up. I’ve had more support from strangers than some people I thought would be right there with me along the way.”
Turner has used what he learned from staging past events, such as Woody’s Run and Mandy’s Wish, to bring people together and raise money in creative ways. He even coaxed Larry Bird into donating his Harley Davidson and has sold 1000 raffle tickets for the prize.
“We’ve already raised over $20,000 and the event hasn’t even started yet,” said Turner, mentioning that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. “Our goal is $30,000 for the boys to split. The Eagles are helping people and we are going to make this an annual event. Someone always needs some extra help.”
The ride will leave the Lapel lodge and stop at the lodges in Noblesville, Alexandria, New Castle and return to Lapel. Meanwhile, family activities will be staged for non-riders, such as a golf cart poker run, dunk tank, face painting, live music, hog roast and corn hole tournament. Over 30 vendors will be set up to ensure there is something for everyone.
“The smiles on the kids’ faces keep me going,” said Turner. “It makes me feel good to make a difference in someone’s life – to pay it forward. I’ve got a good group of people, especially Billy Hooten, who help me out.”
“It means everything that these people are willing to do this for us,” said Latoya Nance, Johnathon’s mother. “It’s nice to know people do this for others. They have their own lives and jobs and other things to do. We are grateful to be involved.”