Just 100 yards from where Carrie Elmore was buried a week earlier, more than 200 motorcyclists turned out to show their support for the family of the 11-year-old who lost her battle with cancer.
Even though Carrie lost that battle, the fight continued for her family, which must endure not only the pain from her loss but a mountain of medical bills left behind.
The community rallied around the family at Copeland Baptist Church on Sunday where Carrie was a member.
Becky Johnson, an organizer for the event and a friend of the family, said her heart breaks for Carrie and her family. She talked about how Carrie’s words touched her.
“I learned saying ‘I love you’ as many times a day as you can never gets old,” Johnson said. “She also taught me that listening, and I mean really listening, is a true gift, and she had that gift.”
Carrie’s brother Billy, 10, a student at Mountain Park Elementary, gave a three-two-one countdown before the bikers headed out. He also asked that the bikers give the peace sign as they headed out of the parking lot, which was a request of Carrie’s. Bill rode on the back of the bike driven Kenneth Johnson, husband of Becky Johnson.
Kenny King, Carrie’s pastor, said burying the little girl was one of the worst duties of his career.
“Carrie is one of the most special little girls that you would ever meet. I’ve only been a pastor here since June of 2011, and even on her worst day, she never complained. She just loved the Lord, and she shared that with everybody, which is the reason you see everybody here today. It’s because of her attitude and her love for the Lord that everybody is here today,” said King.
“It’s a blessing that she’s not hurting. The windows of heaven will be open when all these bikes crank up. I want to thank everybody for turning out,” King said.
Not a dry eye was left as the hundreds of motorcycles pulled out of Copeland Baptist Church.
Organizers had penciled in Sunday as the date for the “Ride for Carrie” well before she succumbed Oct. 3 to Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare disease characterized by cancer cells developing in bones or soft tissue. Carrie was diagnosed with the disease at age 5, and spent the next six years undergoing treatments, including radiation. It was anticipated that the Central Middle School student might be well enough to attend. As her condition worsened, however, the focus shifted from the event being a time of recognition for Carrie’s achievement as a six-year cancer survivor to a memorial ride that honored her struggle.
While her father was working, Carrie’s mother had to stay home and care for their daughter during the years of the illness. Meanwhile, medical and other expenses accumulated, not the least of which were the travel costs.
“Sometimes there were daily trips,” Johnson said. The family’s home in Mountain Park is at least an hour from the Winston-Salem hospital where Carrie received treatments.
“This is a financial crisis in which we all can help,” Johnson said, calling the monetary demands on the family “unimaginable.”
The Elmores said they are thankful for having received much support from churches and others in the community.
Reach Mondee Tilley firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.