Dundee couple loves to ride
DUNDEE--Stacey and Doug Wills love their motorcycle rides. But Stacey and Doug love the results of their most recent ride across the country even more.
Stacey is a second-grade teacher in Dundee. Her husband Doug has been interested in motorcycles since he was a teenager. Stacey says about 10 years ago, she quit resisting her husband's motorcycling passion and decided to join him with his hobby.
Doug has owned several different bikes. He started with a Honda 125. He's also had several Harleys. Today, he is the proud owner of a shiny, powerful, 2016 Indian Roadmaster motorcycle that is built for touring. And touring they do.
In May, Stacey and Doug rode in the annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America. Petty, a former NASCAR driver and currently a broadcast analyst for NBC television, started the motorcycle charity ride 23 years ago. The rest is indeed history. Today, more than $17.5 million dollars has been raised from these motorcycle trips. Now the best part, this money has been used to give children age 6 to 16 with chronic or life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to attend the fun Victory Junction camp (located in Randleman, North Carolina) at no cost to the child.
The ride is not cheap. To join this group of 200 other motorcycle enthusiasts on this year's ride of 2,414 miles was $10,000.
Stacey Wills said, "It was worth every penny and more!"
Wills said they started the motorcycle group ride in Portland, Oregon May 13. They averaged about 340 miles each day and had the opportunity to see some absolutely beautiful scenery of the United States.
This year's itinerary included driving through Oregon and the great northwest, big-sky country in Montana, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park, the Badlands in South Dakota, the lakes of Minnesota and then on to Harley-Davidson's corporate headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Doug said his most memorable part of the ride was leaving Ten Sleep, Wyoming in the rain and riding through Big Horn National Forest up to 9,900 feet above sea level. At that level, it started snowing. Doug said, "We rode in snow for almost 30 minutes. Afterward, many southern riders kidded with us saying that this was our kind of riding weather from NY. We had to laugh and tell them that when it snows in NY, we usually don't ride our motorcycle." Later during a morning riders meeting, Kyle Petty so eloquently put things into perspective when he reminded us that although we had to face many weather challenges on the ride, it was nothing compared to the challenges these children at camp have to face every day of their lives. It was a great humbling experience".
One of Stacey's best part of the ride was FaceTiming with Kyle Petty to her second-grade class in Dundee from Mt. Rushmore. Stacey said, "Seeing her students' smiling faces and hearing the excitement in their voices made me realize how much I missed them. Their joy of being part of something bigger than themselves could be felt through the telephone. At that moment I knew they had learned the important life lesson that giving to others is often the best gift you can give to yourself."
Stacey added another gift of joy to her ride. At the end of child's camp stay at Victory Junction, each camper receives a customized quilt from their camp bed along with a stuffed teddy bear to remind them of their camp fun after they return home. Stacey thought it would be a thoughtful gift if she actually made one of the teddy bears and then carried the collectible on her 2,414 mile ride. Stacey got the help of her second-grade Dundee class students and others to make the stuffed bear. Stacey said, FaceTiming from Mr. Rushmore and then presenting the teddy bear to Kyle Petty for the kids at camp was emotionally very satisfying.
What's next for a Wills motorcycle ride? Stacey smiles broadly and said, "Maybe we'll ride again on the 2018 Kyle Petty charity ride-as long as I can get the time off school."