Photo courtesy Ribbon Riders

“We’re not a motorcycle club. We’re not ‘biker chicks.’ We’re just women who love to ride,” Pam Klug says modestly.

And ride they do—a lot—but they also do much more.  Pam and six other women–all career-oriented professionals–formed the Ribbon Riders in 2008.  The group shares a common love for two wheels and the open road, riding motorcycles and raising funds for breast cancer patients who are undergoing treatment.  The money goes to help patients with everyday living expenses, so they can focus on recovery rather than finances.  “It’s immediate needs,” Pam says.  “Things that insurance doesn’t cover: rent, groceries, gasoline. You can get help for medicine, you can get help for mammograms and treatment; there isn’t anybody that’s going to give you money for food.”

Photo courtesy Ribbon Riders

Each of the group’s members has been touched by breast cancer either directly or through a family member or friend.  And they understand all too well a woman’s reluctance to ask for help.  “Women tend to put their needs last,” Maria Ford, one of the group’s founding members, says.  “When you have a family, your kids, your husband, your family comes first. They tend to ignore themselves, because they don’t want to be a burden.”

In its first two years, the group has grown to 26 members and has helped 48 women and one man affected by the disease. “We don’t just give checks,” Maria says.  We try to really develop relationships with the people that we help.  So we try to go visit, and to let them know that they’re not alone.”

Yamany Sweezey, a 46-year old Casselberry, Florida cancer survivor, was Ribbon Riders’ first aid recipient. “They are my angels. I don’t have any sisters, but now I have 20 sisters,” she says.  Now in remission, she has become a proud member of the group and counsels others going through treatment.  “My mission is to share with those survivors, because I say, Lord, if I have to walk this path, let it mean something.  Let me give something back, let me help another woman or another man that’s going through that.”

Photo: Yamany Sweezey

The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization was recently awarded a $50,000 grant from Susan G. Komen Central Florida, as well as a $10,000 educational grant from the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation to produce a non-medical, survivor-to-survivor, caregiver-to-caregiver guide.  For now, Ribbon Riders limits its assistance to seven counties in Central Florida, but members know the need is much greater and hope to eventually expand their reach.  “We’ve had people ask us from other states if we have a chapter in their state,” Lisa Dye, the group’s president, says. “We know there’s the need and the want.  It’s just that we don’t want to get too big, too fast.”

Photo courtesy Ribbon Riders

In addition to its regular weekend rides, the Ribbon Riders hold a motorcycle show at the Sanford, Florida Bikefest in the fall and a biker “Bingo Run” for breast cancer—called “Go Pink”—in the spring.  Several members of the group also ride in an “Iron Butt” endurance ride over Labor Day weekend, taking pledges and riding 1,000 miles through the state of Florida in less than 24 hours. The Ribbon Riders are the first group of all-female motorcyclists to be accredited by the Iron Butt Association of long-distance endurance riding enthusiasts. “We’re a full-blown 501(c)(3) with a riding problem!” Maria Ford says.  “I think it’s pretty much   taken on a life of its own.  As we’ve grown, we’ve realized how much of a difference we can make in someone’s life.”

Photo courtesy Ribbon Riders

They ride, they give back to their community, and they’ve made lifelong friends in the process.  “We have a sisterhood that’s just unlike any other I’ve had in my whole lifetime,” Lisa Dye says.  ”It’s very empowering.”  Empowering, and satisfying:”You know what the most fun is?” asks Alex Pleasants, another of Ribbon Riders’ founding members.  “You go on a girls’ run, and the faces when they see that it’s all just women, it’s jaw-dropping!  And girls will see us, and they all cheer and they wave, so it’s pretty awesome riding with just the girls.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Website:

http://www.ribbonriders.org/

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ribbon-Riders/23663424963

Twitter:

http://twitter.com/ribbonriders

Photo courtesy Ribbon Riders

Photo courtesy Ribbon Riders

Photo courtesy Ribbon Riders

Photo courtesy Ribbon Riders

Photo courtesy Ribbon Riders

Photo courtesy Ribbon Riders

Photo courtesy Ribbon Riders

About Glen Abbott
Glen Abbott is a Florida-based travel writer & photographer. He specializes in writing about motorcycle touring and travel, and his work appears regularly in Harley-Davidson's HOG magazine, American Iron, and other publications.

View all posts by Glen Abbott »

8 Comments
  1. LInda

    March 24, 2011

    I’m so proud of Pam.

  2. Mary Lou Hinkey

    December 28, 2010

    My Sister-in-law, Nancy Kuehl Jahelka, is Member, I am very Proud of Her and what she does. They do so much for others and they love doing it. Keep up the good work. May God Bless You All and May He Keep You Safe On The Road.

  3. Cathy Sweeney

    December 27, 2010

    Love these women! What a great way to be raising funds for a great cause and offering support for those with breast cancer.

    Thanks for the inspiring post!

  4. Travelin' Gringo

    December 24, 2010

    Thanks, Lorna. They truly are an amazing group!

  5. Lorna - the roamantics

    December 24, 2010

    incredible post! what amazing women. i share their love of two wheels and am especially moved by their work as i lost a close friend to breast cancer. i applaud them for their work and you for highlighting it! will help spread the word :)

  6. Travelin' Gringo

    December 23, 2010

    Thanks Inka, they are a great group!

  7. inka

    December 23, 2010

    I’m proud to be the first to comment on the story about absolutely fabulous women. I spread the word everywhere.

  8. Kirby

    December 23, 2010

    These ladies are the best, I’ll keep an eye out for them and hope they show at the next bike week event.

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