The fifth annual Hope on Wheels motorcycle ride benefiting cancer patients is set for May 18 beginning at 11 a.m. The ride has drawn 60 to 80 participants in previous years and raised between $8,000 and $10,000, to help local cancer patients with ancillary needs like transportation, wigs and medication.

The event is organized by the Mountain States Foundation, and proceeds go to the Regional Cancer Center at Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA).
“We hope to raise at least another $8,000,” said Jeff Clinebell, senior project manager for construction at MSHA and one of the event organizers. “It’s a really nice ride, and it benefits a great cause.”

Registration will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the MSHA Market Street Centre across from Jim’s Motorcycle Sales. Breakfast and a lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs will be available for purchase, as well as door prize tickets.

There will be a free t-shirt for each motorcycle registered, and t-shirts will also be available for purchase at $10 apiece. All proceeds go to the cancer fund.
The 73-mile ride, which takes about two hours, includes a pass by Niswonger Children’s Hospital right at the start. Weather permitting, patients from the hospital and their families often come out to watch the motorcycle procession and wave at the riders.

Then the ride goes to Unicoi County and winds through Cherokee National Forest and into North Carolina, following the Cane River and passing two waterfalls along the way.

“This route is absolutely spectacular,” said Karen Clark, corporate director of fund development for the Mountain States Foundation. “There are waterfalls and little brooks and streams everywhere, and the road follows a rolling, serpentine pattern that motorcyclists love.”

Proceeds will provide assistance to pediatric and adult patients undergoing cancer treatment at any of MSHA’s Regional Cancer Centers.

“People come from all across our region to support this ride, partly because the ride itself is so much fun, and partly because they truly see the need for supporting this program,” Clark said. “This helps people at their time of greatest need. When someone is coping with cancer, not only do they have emotional challenges to face, but they have financial challenges as well. This provides assistance on the financial end so those patients can focus on getting better.

The registration fee is $20 per motorcycle. A rain date has been set for Saturday, June 1.