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Riding for a Cause

The 10th annual Police and Fire Ride for Leukemia attracted hundreds of motorcyclists.

Jim Thurin remembers how simple life was five years ago when he planned his son Mikey’s schedule around playdates.

Today, Thurin plans Mikey’s schedule around doctor’s appointments—the harsh reality of being a parent of a child with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL.

“It’s almost impossible to understand the impact leukemia can have on your life,” said Thurin, of Glen Arm. “It’s so upsetting as a parent to know that your child is dealing with doctors and needles, and all of the effects of chemotherapy.”

Mikey Thurin, 9, a fourth-grader at , is one of the more than 957,900 Americans living with a blood cancer, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Mikey was the honored guest Sunday morning during the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society-Maryland chapter’s 10th annual Police and Fire Ride for Leukemia.

Approximately 300 motorcycle riders from across the region turned out to the Harley-Davidson/Buell Store of Baltimore in Middle River for the ride, which took participants on a 50-mile ride through northern Baltimore County.

Police officers from across the metropolitan area provided an escort during the event, which Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s senior campaign manager Danielle Bormel said was expected to raise $50,000 for the charity.

“We had a lot of support from Harley-Davidson and riders from all over who really believe in this cause,” Bormel said.

Along with uniformed officers, the riders included many motorcycle clubs representing both police officers and firefighters from all over the region. Among those clubs were Smoke & Iron Firefighters Motorcycle Club, the Baltimore City Fire Department Motorcycle Riders Groups and Iron Shields, whose members are police officers.

The Baltimore City Fire Department Motorcycle Riders Group, which had 27 riders on Sunday, raised about $3,000 in 2010 and more than $2,000 this year. The group was recognized as raising the most of any group that participated in the 2011 ride.

“We’re united together to find a cure for people like Mikey,” said Baltimore City Fire Department Motorcycle Riders Group president Vernon Odle, of Middle River. “It was amazing to see so many firefighters and police officers participating in this ride. We’re hoping we can use this ride to do more joint events together.”

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society board member Bernie Gerst said he was pleased to see the turnout for Sunday’s ride. He said he was amazed at how much the event has grown in the past decade. The first ride attracted just seven riders.

“It’s rewarding to see so many riders come out to support this cause,” said Gerst, who is also the chief of the Towson University police department. “We see a lot of the same faces, but they also do a great job of bringing in new ones.”

Jim Thurin said he is so appreciative of the support he and his family have received from the motorcycle community.

“I’ve never seen a group of people come together like motorcycle riders,” Thurin said. “No matter what background they come from, they come together to help support the cause.”

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