Montgomery Ala.– For the sixteenth year in a row, members of the Heart of Dixie Harley Owners Group-Pelham Chapter (HOG) gear up to brighten the holidays for teens and children committed to the Alabama Department of Mental Health’s (ADMH) Psychiatric Adolescent Unit at the East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) in Opelika. This annual event combines the excitement of gifts and fellowship with the thrill of a motorcycle ride.
For the past fifteen years, the members of the HOG Chapter have donated both gifts and their time so the children in the hospital may experience a wonderful holiday season. Due to the severity of their mental illness, these adolescents will spend the holidays in the hospital. The unit at EAMC serves adolescents committed to the Alabama Department of Mental Health and has the capacity to serve up to 10 adolescents.
Initially, the Chapter would ride their motorcycles to the ADMH Unit during the month of December and enjoy an afternoon of food and fellowship. However, for the past two years, the ride had to be rescheduled due to weather conditions. Despite this delay, the HOG Chapter has remained dedicated to these kids and ensured the gifts were delivered in time for the children to open on Christmas Day. Then in the Spring, the riders made the trip again on their motorcycles to the DMH Unit to share their time with the children.
This year, the Harley Chapter continues to collect gifts for the children on the ADMH Unit to be provided to the kids on Christmas Day. The actual ride will be scheduled for Spring 2020 so that the kids can enjoy the parade of motorcycles coming to visit them and spend the afternoon with the riders.
The dedicated group of Harley riders have consistently taken time to help ensure the youth have a special Christmas. The generosity of both tangible gifts and the intangible gift of their time, along with the joy and excitement it brings to the children, truly exemplifies the spirit of the season.
History of the Tim Dollard Memorial Ride:
Sixteen years ago, Tim Dollard of JBS Mental Health Authority was able to get the Heart of Dixie Harley Owners Group-Pelham Chapter to sponsor the kids at the Bryce Adolescent Unit. Each year the Harley group has scheduled a “Harley Christmas Ride” to deliver the donated presents ensuring the adolescents on the unit had gifts on Christmas Day.
The group continued the ride as the unit transitioned from Bryce onto the UAB campus in Birmingham in 2010 and then from UAB to EAMC in Opelika in April 2016, the Harley group has also been allowed to participate in a reception with the adolescents and has expressed how much joy it brings them to spend time with the kids. For the first thirteen consecutive years, the Harley group’s “Harley Ride” and reception occurred in December, prior to Christmas.