Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Bikers and ‘Boobers’: How one motorcycle club is raising money for women with breast cancer

The Old Dudes, a motorcycle club in Hampton Roads, held their 17th annual Poker Run to raise money for Here for the Girls, Inc. on Saturday. (WYDaily/Courtesy Vicki Vawter)
The Old Dudes, a motorcycle club in Hampton Roads, held their 17th annual Poker Run to raise money for Here for the Girls, Inc. on Saturday. (HNNDaily/Courtesy Vicki Vawter)

Drivers in Hampton Roads on Saturday might’ve looked out their rear view window and seen a line of motorcycle men revved up behind them — toting along women in bright pink on the back of their bikes.

This has become an annual sight as The Old Dudes, a local motorcycle club, completed their 17th annual Poker Run to raise money for Here for the Girls Inc., a local nonprofit that provides support for women with breast cancer under the age of 50.

Each year, The Old Dudes hosts a Poker Run which registers more than 100 motorcyclists to ride along a route that stops at five locations along Hampton Roads.

“When people have this idea of a group of motorcycles out on the road, I know they aren’t typically thinking that they’re out here for a good cause,” said Robin Wyatt, president of Here for the Girls Inc. “But these men are out here because they know that raising money for these ladies stays with them and they want to see their impact locally.” 

Wyatt has participated in the Poker Run before and that’s how she earned the road name “PINK,” which was sewn into a patch on her black motorcycle jacket.

She said the connection between these women and the motorcyclists is something special and that’s why it has lasted for nearly two decades.

“It’s about the sun on your face and the wind on your knees and we want to share the experience with these women,” said Patrick Gay, one of the motorcyclists. “We call it two-wheel therapy.”

Boobers and bikers

The Poker Run went from Quaker Steak & Lube in Newport News, Jose Tequilas in Williamsburg, Lovell’s Place in West Point Wildhorse Cafe in Gloucester, and finishing at Harley Davidson in Yorktown. (WYDaily/Courtesy Vicki Vawter)
The Poker Run went from Quaker Steak & Lube in Newport News, Jose Tequilas in Williamsburg, Lovell’s Place in West Point Wildhorse Cafe in Gloucester, and finishing at Harley Davidson in Yorktown. (HNNDaily/Courtesy Vicki Vawter)

Some the women of Here for the Girls Inc., known as “Boobers,” ride on the backs of the motorcycles as they go to each stop, each donning pink sparkles or bright pink scarves to represent their cause.

Here for the Girls Inc. aims to offer opportunities for women under 50 diagnosed with breast cancer to have new and exciting experiences, Wyatt said. Each Boober tries to live by organization’s motto: “To live life with an exclamation point instead of a period.”

“When you have breast cancer, you start to see things differently,” said Dee Sanchez, 50. “And that’s what this ride is about. You’re riding along the Colonial Parkway and really seeing the water, smelling the trees. It’s a true experience.”

Sanchez was diagnosed with breast cancer at 46. Three years ago, she rode for the first time with The Old Dudes and was hooked, buying her husband a motorcycle the following Christmas so they could ride in the Poker Run together the next year. 

Participants paid a registration fee of $10 for a single rider or $15 for two, the proceeds of which all go to Here for the Girls, Inc. (WYDaily/Courtesy Vicki Vawter)
Participants paid a registration fee of $10 for a single rider or $15 for two, the proceeds of which all go to Here for the Girls, Inc. (HNNDaily/Courtesy Vicki Vawter)

But for some of the women, like Kristen Sage, 33, this is their first time riding on the Poker Run.

“Events like this help you to live out of your comfort zone. You learn to live each day freely, excitedly, and sometimes that means on the back of a motorcycle,” she said.

About 40,920 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2018 from breast cancer, according to statistics from the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Treatments for breast cancer can be invasive or life-altering, from surgery to chemotherapy and with October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, Wyatt said events like this not only help raise money for the women affected but also give them the chance to live full lives.

“One day there will be a cure, but in the meantime these women have to go to work everyday, they have to send their kids to school,” she said. “Events like this help them to take back a little bit of what was taken from them because they’re understanding now that life has an end and they might not have another opportunity to jump out of an airplane or ride on the back of a motorcycle.”

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John Mangalonzohttp://wydaily.com
John Mangalonzo (john@localdailymedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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