My last entry this year-James Leatherwood

James Leatherwood

We need heroes

Three years ago, I rode out to Macon for my first time to join the escort as the Miracle Riders came home. I didn’t know any of them, and as they pulled in – weather-beaten, windburnt, and a bit grimy from the road – they seemed larger than life. The cheering crowd and police escort certainly reinforced the “Heroes returning home” vibe of the event.


Just a few days ago, I pulled into Macon with 14 amazing guys. Still weather-beaten and a bit grimy, we were greeted by the same kind of cheering crowd. But now I understand that it’s not the Riders who are heroes.


The real heroes are the parents of at-risk infants, who entrust their children to doctors, nurses, and other caregivers, hoping and praying that the right technology, the right medicine, the right person is in place that their child may celebrate a birthday or share a hug. They’re the ones who have to work through understanding the risks, make the tough decisions, then wait to see the results.


The real heroes are the children, old enough to understand “Hey! That HURTS!” but not yet wise enough to see how an IV, blood draw, or chemo treatment might have a benefit an hour, a day, or a year down the road. The kids who could give up, but fight on, day after day, hoping for a brighter future. And maybe a motorcycle ride someday with some friends.


The real heroes are the doctors and nurses, who go to school for years to learn how little bodies are supposed to work and how to figure out what’s going on when things go wrong. The real heroes are the administrators, housekeeping staff, aides, and others without the “glory” of wearing a stethoscope who keep the lights on, the beds clean, and the supplies stocked.


The real heroes are the ones who make the ride possible. Karen, Anna, and others who pour hours into planning, coordination, and building networks so the Ride becomes so much more than just a ride. Jessica, Sandy, and others who help get the word out, take sponsors’ money, and do so much behind the scenes. Susan, who makes sure we have a hot shower and a bed at the end of the day. So many heroes!


The real heroes are the families, friends, and employers of the lucky few who get to saddle up and ride motorcycles across the country. Even the veterans left town not knowing what the road would hold for us. We entrusted our homes, loved ones, businesses, and pets to your care. We came home to hugs, hot showers, and work to be done – and knowing you were supporting us, praying for us, and taking care of business helped us sleep at night.


The real heroes are the sponsors, who write checks large and small. They get their names printed on shirts and plastered on bikes, but that’s not why they give. They want to help make the world a better place. They want to be part of something that’s bigger than they are.


The real heroes are the people all over this country who took the time to listen to our stories. I don’t know how many times I got to walk up to a stranger and say, “Let me tell you who we are, and what we’re doing.” I can tell you I gave out 250 business cards with the Ride for Miracles information on them, and more brochures than I can count. People wanted to hear the stories. They wanted us to hear their stories, of how a children’s hospital saved the life of someone they love. And they wanted to give. In hands full of change, with folded dollar bills and checks, they, too, wanted to be part of the Ride for Miracles.


You heroes deserve a cheering crowd, a police escort, and a big party. Thanks for letting the 16 of us this year represent you, and to be part of something that’s SO much bigger than just us.


KSU at 10 a.m. in just 11 months!


8 Responses to My last entry this year-James Leatherwood

  1. Amy Bailey says:

    Cooper in Bonesteel SD would like to know if you will be coming this way again?!

  2. Gerry McKoon Burge says:

    Mr. Leatherwood, I enjoy writing. However, I also greatly appreciate, and love to read, good writing that comes from others. I got to this site because of a post on a Jordan Alumni FB page, and I am so very glad that I did. Thank you for the time and effort, both emotional and intellectual, that you put into your post. It rang with truth and humility and appreciation for others–a tribute to your personal depth and sensitivity. I understand that 2015 will be the last ride for the Miracle Riders. I am sorry that I have just learned of your organization, and wish you much success on your last ride.

  3. ezzee says:

    I’d like to hear what you guys are all about. The name ezzee because I like to volunteer. But we are riders in Florida so would love to hear if you’re coming our way

  4. Katherine brown says:

    I am a neighbor and friend of Ronnie Wilson. I try to keep up with what’s going on and I just want to say thank all of you guys for what y’all did. God bless you all. Be safe and well.

  5. Julie says:

    Thanks for sharing. So many heros that come together for a common cause.

  6. Jan Hansen says:

    The Miracle ride is TRULY about what can happen when people come together to accomplish a goal. Thank you, James, for putting into words what makes the Miracle Ride experience so special and for reminding us all of the many, many people who help make miracles happen every day for the children of Columbus, Georgia.

  7. Rochelle says:

    James, you are such a great writer. You put so much feeling into your words. I agree, Karen, no one could say it better. James, you put words to how we all feel. Great job and thank you for so many things.

  8. Karen Cook says:

    Oh my! I thought my rider tears were done. I hope everyone who looked at this site even once will come back and read this. No one could have said it better. Thank you!

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