Nearly 20 years ago the late Bruce Rossmeyer, of Daytona Harley Davidson and later Destination Daytona, along with many others, founded Camp Boggy Creek. The camp’s mission is to provide a free retreat and give seriously ill children a little light in their lives of sickness, pain and uncertainty. Camp Boggy Creek has never charged for letting kids stay at the camp and has always relied on the compassion of others to maintain the level of commitment and care the camp has come to be known for.
Shortly after the camp was formed, Bruce was asked if he could help coordinate a motorcycle ride to help in raising funds. That was all they needed to say to Bruce, and before they could say, “Wild Hogs,” he was off and running. That first ride saw about 50 people take part, which is a great number for a first anything and motivated Bruce to keep going with his dream and he never looked back. The annual ride attracts hundreds of riders and passengers who, if they didn’t already know what the camp was all about in the morning, were more than moved by the time they went home from Camp Boggy Creek that evening. Over the years since the beginning the event has raised more than $4 million.
That brings us to the 2012 Bruce Rossmeyer Ride For Children Benefitting Camp Boggy Creek and it was set to be another amazing turnout. The charity ride was scheduled for Sunday, October 7. A group of employees from J&P Cycles’ Destination Daytona SuperStore decided to take part. Besides myself, others taking part included Sean Schaffer, Dave Rossi, and Mike McGuire. Joining us was my brother-in-law, Steve Fitzgerald. We were all excited about doing the ride. My brother-in-law had done the ride in prior years, but all four of us J&P guys were rookies.
For me the day started with meeting up with Steve at the McDonald’s near Destination Daytona. After Egg McMuffins, coffee (have you noticed that fast food isn’t all that economical any longer?) and a bit of small talk, we headed over to the J&P Cycles store. As the bikes rolled in they were lining up right along Destination Daytona Lane that runs by the store. Steve and I met up in the J&P Cycles parking lot with the other J&P riders. I was riding my 2009 Yamaha Tour Deluxe, Steve was on his 2003 Anniversary Special Fat Boy, Mike on his Ultra Classic, and then we had Sean on the J&P ’06 Yamaha Road Star Custom and Dave with the ‘08 J&P Bagger.
As we lined our bikes up in the J&P parking lot, we enjoyed watching the hundreds and hundreds of bikes pouring in and finding their place in the starting line – it was amazing. Then at 10 straight up the bikes started to rumble – way cool!!!
There were nearly 1,000 motorcycles of seemingly every make, model, and custom. As the beginning of the line started to roll, you could see the faces lighting up as the kickstands started popping up and the revving was reverberating. From our vantage point in the J&P lot, we were able to watch virtually all the bikes taking part in the ride parade by. We had elected to ride as close to the end of the ride as possible, so when we saw the police escort trailing the ride wave us in…..we were off!!
The ride took back roads from Ormond Beach near the Atlantic Coast to Eustis closer to the center of the state of Florida. The ride covered a little more than 60 miles and it was police escorted, so our feet never touched the ground from the time we left the J&P Cycles parking lot until we were parking our bikes at Camp Boggy Creek. All five of us are pretty used to riding a lot, but I had to wonder as we rode an hour and 45 minutes without stopping how many of the riders and passengers had never before sat in the saddle for 105 unbroken minutes. You would never know it though as there was not a face that I saw that didn’t have an ear-to-ear smile.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous as the clock edged toward noon. Plenty of Florida sun with a few fluffy clouds and temperature a little above 80 degrees was making the ride near perfect……or so I thought. The perfection REALLY appeared as we turned into the Camp Boggy Creek campgrounds. There to meet us were probably 40-50 children and parents waving and chanting “Thank You,” “We Love You,” and other signs of endearment and gratitude. And it didn’t stop as we weaved through the grounds to where they were having us park…..the path was lined with kids and parents cheering and waving. Don’t forget that we were at the rear of 1,000 motorcycles and we were greeted with the same enthusiasm that greeted the first bike. I don’t care if you can watch the movie Homeward Bound without a tear, you would have been hardpressed to ride that first 500 feet into Camp Boggy Creek without all your heart strings being pulled. Good thing we all had sunglasses on!!!
We parked the bikes and as always the two J&P bikes attract plenty of attention. We walked up to the main area of the event and partook in the meal that was provided by Outback. The food was great and it was plentiful. I’ll say this, if you left hungry, it was your own fault. When in group situations like that with a lot of local people, it is amazing how many people you run into are regulars in the J&P Cycles store. I was sitting at one of the tables eating when a guy saw my t-shirt that just happened to say J&P Cycles and he asked if I worked at the store. He went on to tell me about how he is there all the time. While he was talking another biker walked up and asked me the same thing. He started on how he knew all the Showroom techs by name and when he was in Sturgis he saw several familiar faces from Florida working in the Sturgis store. The same sort of thing happened with the other three guys while we were at Camp Boggy Creek.
As the eating was winding down the entire Rossmeyer family was introduced on stage and also the celebrity participant, Edie Falco from the Sopranos. They introduced some of the kids who have been able to enjoy the camp. One little girl, 8-year-old Audrey who lives with spina bifida, was celebrating her birthday and she had nearly 1,000 people sing Happy Birthday to her. Once again…..even Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley would have had wet and red eyes at that point.
Then along came the auction. They had a guitar, a $5,000 necklace, 2 VIP tickets to the PGA Master WITH private jet flying you from Orlando, 2 Southwest Airline tickets to ANYWHERE Southwest flies, and more. Needless to say it wasn’t just a bunch of Women’s Church Group Crafts being auctioned. What started out as a sane little fund-raising event turned serious – in some cases the bidding hit upwards of $5,000 to $7,000, but never below $1,500. It is mighty entertaining to watch some rich guys trying to outdo each other. When the auction dust had settled over $30,000 had been raised for the kids.
All-in-all it was an amazing day. The weather was perfect, the company we were with was the best, the ride was scenic and fun, and the activities at the campgrounds were creative and entertaining…..and at the end of the day over $350,000 was raised to bring joy into the lives of children and their families. I sure do thank God that I am a part of this brotherhood and sisterhood of bikers.