Over 130 riders raise awareness for pediatric cancer

Over 130 riders raise awareness for pediatric cancer
Over 130 riders raise awareness for pediatric cancer


A motorcycle ride that started just six years ago has grown into a major event, bringing together dozens of local riders and thousands of dollars against childhood cancer. 

Smiles From Heaven and Lazy Boy Tattoos have been annual partners for Ride for Hope, as part of their Childhood Cancer Awareness Month festivities and activities in September. What started as a few local bikers driving for free and only collecting toys now sees 136 local motorcycle riders and over $3,000 in proceeds donated to the local pediatric cancer cause. 

“Our first ride it was only about 12 bikes that showed up, but that was what got our foot in the door. But we then met Bella from Bella Strong through the Golden Heart project during a pizza event,” said Hector Hernandez, owner of Laxy Boy Tattoos. “It started from there.

“They also kept pushing us to do bigger and better things, and we kept putting it out and did not give up after the first event with such a small amount. We never thought that we would get to 136 bikes like now.”

Hernandez and his company host the annual event and charge $25 to each rider. They also collect other funds and even toys and prizes that the motorcycle riders want to provide to the cause. 

A total of $3,400 was collected, with the proceeds being evenly split between Smiles from Heaven and the Golden Heart Project.

The event commenced on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. as the ride began at Jett Bowl by McPherson Road and went all the way north to Mile Marker 18. Then after a rest, they return back to the city limits at the local Harley Davidson location, as they were escorted by the Webb County Precinct 2 Constable’s Office.

Hernandez said that no “matter how tough or mean they look,” local motorcycle riders do good things for a cause and have big hearts. And in this case, they understand the need in the local childhood pediatric cancer community. 

“They can ride any day they want for free, but they choose to ride nice and slow with us and pay the fee to be there and still donate a little bit extra,” Hernandez said. “They know the struggles that the families are going through. … Many times the kids that are battling cancer at the moment do show up, and they take pictures with the kids and let the kids sit on the bikes and do things like that.”

Smiles From Heaven Co-Founder Ray Sanchez is extremely glad for the event and its continued growth. He is encouraged to see more and more people each year come out in support of the good cause.

“The event keeps growing every year, as the awareness spreads and the biking community comes together. It is always a big turnout,” Sanchez said. “It is just amazing how you see the different motorcycle clubs come together and all to support the same cause.”

Awareness is more than just a month of activities and festivities but rather the hope of one day bringing the needed care for local children to the area. 

“It is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month nationwide, but to us Laredoans and for families fighting cancer, families who have fought cancer and families who have lost a child to cancer, September and the gold ribbon mean more than just a national childhood cancer awareness month,” Sanchez said. “To us, it is a symbol of hope and a hope for one day that Laredo will have a childhood cancer facility and that our children will not have to travel out of town for hundreds of miles that accumulate to thousands of miles for each family. Awareness is hope.”

Some other events expected by the Bella Strong organization include a five-kilometer glow walk on Sept. 17, a shaving event where local law enforcement officers and supporters shave their head in support of the cause, several October events featuring a haunted house and a trick or treat event for children with cancer, and a major drive in December that plans to bring toys to children battling the disease and their families. 

The organization’s efforts are also expanding as they plan to also do an event in Corpus Christi related to the Bella Strong organization later this year. 

“We are going to be hosting this year one over there for our children that are fighting over there in Corpus,” Sanchez said. “The funds collected during the September events all help to host these events also for the holidays. It takes a lot, as there is a lot of children right now in the hospitals.”

For Sanchez, the hope is to one day bring a childhood cancer pediatric center to the city, while Hernandez is just trying to provide one more day of hope to the struggling children and families with the disease. He hopes families understand that there are organizations out there that want them to have the transportation and means for them to get the help they need. 

“Hope is going on for another day,” Hernandez said. “We support awareness, and please tell a friend, a family member or someone at the gas station about the organization and to help these organizations grow.”



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