By Patricia Beech
A group of big-hearted, leather-clad bikers rumbled into Peebles on Saturday, May 7 in a show of support for three-year-old cancer victim, Keller Wilson.
Keller, the son of Jennifer Beech and Kyle Wilson of Peebles was diagnosed with A.L.L. Leukemia. He recently completed radiation treatments at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, and Tuesday underwent a bone marrow transplant.
The “Kickstands for Keller” benefit was sponsored by the Brush Creek chapter of Bikers for Christ (BFC), a motorcycle ministry whose signature patches are “emblazoned with an open Bible, a sword, and up-swept wings representing the power of the Holy Spirit in the their lives”.
With lights flashing, Police Chief Rob Music led the procession of riders through town to the American Legion Post where they were served lunch before continuing their 70-mile trek.
The ministry’s Chapter Elder, Wayne Edingfield, a former high school teacher and minister told those assembled, “We’re happy to have the opportunity to be here today to support Keller and his family.”
The 28 bikers began their ministry ride at Church 180 in Seaman. Passing through southern Highland County, they traveled south through Adams County on St. Rt. 73 to Scioto County, then turned north on St. Rt. 125, returning to Church 180.
Clad in black and orange “Keller Strong” T-shirts, members of the Ladies Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion, prepared and served lunch for the bikers before holding several benefit raffles.
Genie Edwards, President of the Ladies Auxiliary said, “We’re happy to be here to support Keller, and we wish him the best next week when he has his bone marrow transplant.”
Members of the Auxiliary decked the legion hall with black and orange decorations and lined the tables with photographs of Keller and his family. “We’re here to support Keller, said Auxiliary member Trish Fraley. “His Mom and his grandparents are members here and we want to lend a helping hand and do everything we can to help support the family emotionally and financially.”
Last Friday Keller successfully completed his four-day radiation treatment. In a Facebook post, his mother expressed her concerns about the treatment’s unintended effects, including lung scarring and cataracts, before adding that the treatment was “most importantly, all in the act of saving his life.” “I’m overwhelmingly proud of his courage and endurance,” she wrote, adding that Keller’s bone marrow transplant Tuesday followed two days of intense chemotherapy that was expected to “make him pretty sick.”
Keller’s battle with leukemia began in January 2016. The many long weeks of treatment he has endured seem not to have dampened his spirits. He remains a precocious three-year old who loves to play with his twin sister, Gemma, and his older brothers Cruz and Sol.
Michael and Diane Manger, representatives from Cure Search, a national non-profit foundation based in Maryland, were also present for the benefit. The Shelby County couple have ministered to parents of childhood cancer victims since 2013. They travel with a customized 1997 1100 Shadow ACE motorcycle they’ve dubbed the “Childhood Cancer Riderless Bike”.
Manger said the inspiration for their ministry came after they met an 11-year-old girl from Tennessee named Kaitlin, who had a rare form of cancer. “We rode the bike down several times to visit her, and when she died in 2013 I decided no one would ever ride the bike again.” The Mangers travel around America with the bike to raise awareness about childhood cancer. “I promised Kaitlin that I would get her story out and do whatever I could to raise money for research to find a cure.”
The funds they raised on Saturday were donated to Cure Search in honor of Keller.