News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, March 24, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Hundreds of motorcycles revved their engines outside GHSU's Children's Medical Center Saturday.
It was all to remember a little girl named Kelsi. Kelsi was still born at 8 1/2 months because of Down syndrome and her family is looking to remember her by helping other children with special needs.
One rider, Paul May, rode in honor of his neighbor's daughter, Addison, who has Down syndrome.
"It's really neat because we know that they're probably in the middle of some of the toughest times they'll ever have," he said. "[Addison] is a testimony to that and by seeing [her] you know there is light at the end of the tunnel."
He's one of hundreds who showed up for the 10th Annual Kelsi Long Memorial Ride.
Wayne Cheselka and his group have participated in the ride for the past eight years.
"It's emotional, but it's a lot of fun; we love kids and we love to let them see us," he said. "They get excited when they hear the bikes, see the bikes and see people that really care for them."
Those bikes filled the parking lot at the Children's Medical Center on Saturday.
Catherine Stewart, development coordinator for Children's Miracle Network at GHSU, said the kids were excited to see and hear the bikers.
"I was actually standing in the grass earlier and I looked up and there were some kids looking out the window," she said. "So they may not physically be able to come down due to their condition, but they know what's going on and they know it's all about them."
That's because the money raised Saturday goes to them.
Kelsi's father, Brian Long, presented a check to the hospital for almost $5,000.
"It's nice to know that in her name we're able to raise the funds to help those kids that need it most," he said.
The money is going to buy new equipment for the pediatric transport team.
"We really rely on outside organizations like the KEL Foundation to bring us the money to be able to purchase things that the hospital needs," Stewart said. "I'm sure you can imagine that our wish list is endless here at the hospital."
But for May, it's about more than just the money. Sometimes the smallest gesture can mean more than you know.
"If nothing but a roaring motorcycle or a smile or a shake of the hand. It just means a lot to them and we know because we've been right where they are now," he said.
On Saturday those motorcycles roared loudly as hundreds of riders stopped their bikes just to show they care.
Mayor Deke Copenhaver even declared March 24 as Kelsi Long Day in the City of Augusta.
They had 138 bikes show up, which was 100 less than they had last year. They said they were expecting around 350 to 400, but they think the rain kept a few away.
They were still pleased with the turnout and said they hope to keep building for next year.