Thunder Struck Customs Mark Daley presents Dayle Mallory-Bell with a custom guitar Thunder Struck made for the 10th anniversary Brittney Ride for St. Jude's. Check out the incredible life-like picture of Brittney painted on the back.
Though we never met, I get a sense of who you are by the way your mom still talks about you. From her I know you were full of life and compassion, always rooting for the underdog. Even when your life was drawing to a close, you were more worried about your mom carrying on without you than you were about your own well-being. That speaks volumes about who you are, and that’s why today I ride in your honor, Brittney Michelle Mallory.
Oregon’s Umpqua Valley is decorated in fine fall strokes this time of year, orange and yellow leaves of deciduous trees sprinkled between the evergreen-lined precipices. Black-capped snow geese take pause in a pasture to feed on seed and bugs before embarking once again on their journey south. We follow bright butterfly wings on signs along the way this crisp fall day, memories of you lilting like butterfly wings among those who knew you best. As the t-shirts commemorating the 2013 Brittney Ride for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
say, this ride in your memory has been “Saving Kids for 10 Years.”
For the last 10 years, Dayle Mallory-Bell and her husband Dan have been honoring the spirit of their dearly departed daughter Brittney by holding the annual Brittney Ride for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
“If I can help one child and one mom from not feeling this pain then I will do this until the day I am with my sweet child in heaven,” wrote Mallory-Bell.
The 10th Anniversary Brittney Ride was a record-breaking affair, raising approximately $65,000 - $70,000 this year in one weekend. This is achieved through ticket sales, a silent auction, and a live auction featuring 19 guitars signed by a variety of artists including Merle Haggard, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood and the band Five Finger Death Punch. Sponsors also play a vital role, and the Brittney Ride wouldn’t be possible without the support of local businesses like event-host Seven Feathers Casino Resort, D&S Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle Superstore
and Thunder Struck Custom Bikes. Heading into 2013, the event reportedly has already raised around $640,000 for St. Jude’s.
“It was a crazy, crazy weekend,” Dayle said.
It kicked off with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres Friday night before a concert by the Little River Band. Dayle couldn’t say enough good things about Wayne Nelson and the Little River Band for stepping up to support the cause. The band ran through a long list of radio classics in addition to playing a couple new tracks. When it broke into the lyrics of “Lady,” women rushed to the front of the stage from throughout the auditorium. The crowd sang along when the Little River Band started to play “Lonesome Loser” and by the time it ended with “Happy Anniversary” the party was in full swing.
Charlie and Holly Rucker of Medford were having a great time at the show. They have been coming to the Brittney Ride since it started back in 2004 and said back then about 20 riders showed up. Ten years later, they’re impressed by the way it’s grown and how hundreds of riders come out to raise thousands of dollars for St. Jude’s.
A crowd of approximately 350 riders showed up in support of the 10th annual Brittney Ride for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
There were fall colors aplenty in Oregon's Umpqua Valley during the 10th annual Brittney Ride.
The next day, about 350 motorcyclists would take off for a 60-mile poker run through central Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. The route wound through small town America, Oregon hubs with names like Riddle and Myrtle Creek, the road running along rushing rivers and alongside bustling logging mills. Riders drew a card at each stop, competing for prizes provided by poker run sponsor D&S Harley-Davidson. Dan Pitham ended up winning a $100 gift card at D&S for the worst hand. Two people tied for best hand with Jack-high straights, but one of the contestants wasn’t in attendance at the prize ceremony, so Douglas Singer out of Harrisburg, Oregon, claimed “Best Hand” honors and the $500 gift card from D&S Harley.
That evening, riders recharged with a catered prime rib dinner before the live auction got underway. Jason Allen, a local DJ from Q100.3, did a great job of keeping the auction rolling and personally had a hand in getting stars to sign many of the guitars. Allen also shared the story of his visit to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and how, as a father, the children’s stories broke his heart but also fueled the passion to do whatever he can to support the cause. Bidding wars broke out right and left, like the one for a Merle Haggard-signed guitar that crested at $2000.
But one of the most poignant moments of the night came when Dayle told the story behind the guitar Kid Rock signed. Like any normal teenager, Brittney loved to kick back in her room and blare her Kid Rock CD, much to her mother’s chagrin. When she started going through chemo, it seemed like every time they got in the car, Kid Rock’s “Only God Knows Why” would be playing. After hearing it again one day, Brittney looked at her mom and told her, “Mom, it’s going to be OK, only God knows why.” On the day she died, “Only God Knows Why” was the last song Brittney heard before leaving this earth. So Dayle has been on a 10-year mission to get a guitar signed by one of Brittney’s favorite recording artists for the auction. She finally caught up to Kid Rock this year who was on tour in Spokane, Washington, and got a guitar signed by him in Brittney’s honor. The guitar would raise big money as April and Brian Kenyon bought it for $2300, then quickly gave it back to Dayle as a gift. They didn’t feel it was right for anybody else to possess the guitar but her.
This moment could only be outdone by Mark Daley and Travis Linebaugh of Thunder Struck Customs
. Thunder Struck is a long-time supporter of the event and this year the pair went even further, putting their world-class custom bike
Douglas Singer of Harrisburg, Oregon, (right) stands with Dayle after winning 'Best Hand' of the poker run held during the 2013 Brittney Ride.
Havin' a good time at the 10th annual Brittney Ride for St. Jude.
building skills to the test by making a custom guitar for the 10th anniversary. With the help of friends, painter Jeremiah and Butch Gilbert, they put together an amazing custom-painted guitar fashioned with drilled-out metal plates, Thunder Struck-style
“I’ve been in a lot of tense situations, under heavy build times, to come up with crazy things. I never had any pressure like this. So this is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever, ever did, but it’s one of the best things I’ve felt like I ever did, too,” said Daley while presenting Dayle with the guitar.
While Dayle was already in disbelief at the work Thunder Struck had done, they almost brought her to her knees when they flipped over the guitar to reveal a beautiful portrait of Brittney painted on the back, complete with Brittney’s signature butterfly. Because even though the guitar wasn’t signed by a big-name recording artist, “Brittney is the rock star on this guitar,” said Daley.
While the guitar was scheduled to be auctioned off, the crowd would have none of that. Donations quickly started pouring in from people wanting Dayle to keep the guitar, and within minutes the gathering had chipped in $2800 for her to keep it, making it the highest-selling item of the auction. Now the keepsake will forever be in the hands of the woman who deserves it most, the one who loves her daughter in death as in life, who brings local riders together annually so that Brittney’s spirit may soar and in hopes that no other parents have to suffer the same way - Dayle Mallory-Bell. Though this year’s ride has come and gone, we’re already eager for another opportunity to chase butterflies in Brittney’s name.