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2012 Vicki Ballard Memorial Ride kicks off from downtown Trimble

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Vicki Ballard lost her battle with breast cancer in August 2010 after valiantly fighting the disease for seven years. Friday morning, bikers on their way to the 72nd-annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally stopped in Trimble to kick off a memorial ride in her honor. The purpose of the ride is to raise cancer awareness. Many involved in the pilgrimage to Sturgis have also lost loved ones to cancer.
Motorcycle enthusiasts taking part in the 2012 Vicki Ballard Memorial Ride pose on the site of the future Full Throttle S'loonshine Distillery in downtown Trimble. As many as 80 bikers signed up to kick off the ride on Friday morning, but severe storms in the early-morning hours affected participation. These riders will join bikers in Kansas City, Mo. and Sioux Falls, S.D. before the entire group meets Michael Ballard and his camera crew to ride into the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, S.D.
Motorcycle enthusiasts from across the United States have begun their pilgrimage to Sturgis, S.D. for this week's 72nd-annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

In downtown Trimble on Friday morning, a group of those riders was treated to a little old-fashioned Southern hospitality by a local family well known within the biker community.

Many of the bikers stopping into Trimble on Friday have been patrons of Michael Ballard's Full Throttle Saloon -- touted as the world's largest biker bar -- in Sturgis, or are viewers of Ballard's Full Throttle Saloon reality show on TruTV.

Most were even interested in viewing the future site of Ballard's Full Throttle S'loonshine Distillery in downtown Trimble.

But the theme for the weekend ride leaving from the covered bridge in downtown Trimble was not a marketing campaign or a fan-club reunion.

It centered on family.

And bringing awareness to a disease expected to strike over 1.5 million more families in 2012 alone.

Friday's breakfast kicked off the 2012 Vicki Ballard Memorial Ride, dedicated to a beloved member of the Ballard family who passed away in August 2010. The daughter of Raymond and Ruby Ballard of Trimble, and the sister of Michael Ballard and Cass Ballard, Vicki Ballard suffered from breast cancer for seven years before succumbing to the disease two years ago.

Many of the bikers arriving in downtown Trimble on Friday morning have also lost family members to cancer. And those who have suffered that loss made a point to talk with Ruby Ballard at some point during the event.

"It touches everybody," said Ruby Ballard. "Almost every family has been touched by cancer. And if they haven't, they will be. (This ride) brings attention to cancer. It makes people aware of it."

Raymond Ballard of Trimble, left, shows Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill the site of the Full Throttle S'loonshine Distillery in downtown Trimble. The two community leaders discussed the progress of the distillery as motorcycle enthusiasts gathered in downtown Trimble for the 2012 Vicki Ballard Memorial Ride on Friday morning.
"We are trying to get the ride built up for breast cancer awareness. We just hope it grows bigger every year," said Cass Ballard, who said the family plans to set up a booth promoting breast cancer awareness at the Sturgis festival. "(We'll have) a spot at Full Throttle (Saloon) just for that with a donations jar. And we will try to get some money for research so we can stop this bad disease. To women, I want to say 'Don't ever forget to get that examination.'"

As many as 80 bikers signed up to join the memorial ride in Trimble on Friday morning. However, severe thunderstorms throughout the early morning affected the turnout. Those attending were provided a catered breakfast under the covered bridge before beginning the ride.

Raymond Ballard said leftovers from the breakfast were taken to Transitions of Dyer County, courtesy of Michael Ballard. County Mayor Richard Hill delivered the food on his way back into Dyersburg.

Once on the road Friday, the bikers rode to Kansas City, Mo., where they spent the night. Another breakfast at a Harley Davidson dealership on Saturday morning kicked off the second day of the ride, which ended in Sioux Falls, S.D. On Sunday morning, the group traveled to the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis.

An early-morning storm brought temperatures down for residents and riders participating in the 2012 Vicki Ballard Memorial Ride on Friday morning. Here, residents enjoy a relaxing breakfast under Trimble's covered bridge before bikers head out to raise cancer awareness on their way to the 72nd-annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
"Michael's going to meet them and then ride them in with the camera crew," said Ruby Ballard. "They will pick up riders all along the way and he's hoping for about 200 (to ride in with him)."

"(This ride) is absolutely fantastic," said Barry Brockhurst of Titusville, Fla. "I was on it last year and I came up from Florida to ride it this year."

Brockhurst, who is originally from England, said he enjoys riding in Tennessee. The curvy, rural roads and cultivated farmland are far from the Florida landscape he usually navigates. Tennessee reminds him of riding in England.

"I am partial to riding in Tennessee," said Brockhurst. "(But, this story) should be about Vicki. It's all about her."

"I think (this event) is awesome," said Keith Johnson who lives just north of Birmingham, Ala. "A good friend of mine has breast cancer and I saw this ride on the website and it seemed like a good group to ride with."

"I did it last year," said Ricky Kidd from Welcome, N.C. "I met up with Keith and them in Kansas City. It was a great ride. I really enjoyed it and it is a great cause."

This year, Kidd brought Tommy Stovall from the neighboring town of Reedy Creek, N.C. This was Stovall's first ride to Sturgis and his first visit to Trimble.

"I lost my daughter a little over two years ago," said Stovall. "I couldn't see a better reason to ride. I love riding for a good cause."

Claudia Young left her home in "Little" Sturgis, Ky. on Thursday evening and was glad she decided to stop in a hotel for the night instead of camping out. Friday's ride was also her first visit to Trimble.

"We are staying in one of the (Full Throttle Saloon) cabins (in Sturgis) and we saw the ride on the website," said Young. "I think (the town is) beautiful and quaint. It has an old-town, charming feel to it."

Information for this article was obtained from cancer.org.

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