Shelley Martin shouldn’t have a head.
When she woke up after a car t-boned her Mustang, she couldn’t see and thought she was on fire due to the smoke from the airbags.
“My car flipped twice and landed upside-down,” Martin said. “This scream came out of my person that I didn’t even know was possible, but when you think you’re going to die that’s pretty frickin’ intense.”
When she managed to squeeze out of the car, she knew she had a greater purpose.
Shelley Martin is a philanthropic biker, who spends nearly every moment she’s not working as the Senior Events Coordinator at Harley Davidson of Scottsdale getting involved in various charities around the valley.
“I made a promise to God that if I made it out of my car alive, I would make my second chance at life count,” Martin said. “And I’d never forget that promise. I suppose that’s where my passion comes from. I see everything in brighter colors.”
In 2009, Martin founded Bikers 4 Boobies, an annual breast cancer awareness motorcycle ride, which is the largest ride in Arizona and raises tens of thousands in donations each year.
“I didn’t know it was going to turn out the way it did, as big as it is,” Martin said. “Cancer just sucks, but it’s here and the support system that we offer is so wide.”
Before the first ride, they only received 11 preregistrations.
“I just remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh my god I don’t care if I donate a dollar, I’m donating something,’” Martin said. “And next thing I know, there’s 130 bikes outside, and nine years ago that was big for your first ride. And since then it’s grown to 3,200.”
She later started up the ride Peace Out Prostate Cancer in honor of her father and grandfather, who both battled with prostate cancer.
“I didn’t care what situation I was going through in my own person, I had to have that ride,” Martin said.
Martin’s father, James Martin, moved to live near her and his sister when he was diagnosed.
Shelley Martin and her sister became close with her father over nine years, and she now dons an intricate tattoo in his honor, so “he’s with me every day.” She kissed the image of his face as she explained all the details.
“My family is my number one,” Martin said. “As my core and my main support system.”
The biker also focuses on other organizations such as animal shelters, homeless shelters and the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, which she holds dear to her heart.
“Through her work at Harley-Davidson of Scottsdale, Shelley has assisted in putting on a half a dozen events that has raised more than a million dollars for Phoenix Children’s Hospital,” said Patricia Barney, the Accounting Manager at the hospital, who works closely with Martin. “Shelley is very connected to our patient ambassadors who are involved in our charity rides… She makes regular visits when she hears one of the kiddos is in the hospital just so that they know she cares.”
Her closest friend is 7-year-old Brendan, her face lit up with a smile as soon as she said his name because she “could talk about him all day.”
When the hospital contacted her to inform her Brendan wanted his “biker family,” she left work and visited the hospital.
“That day started one of the best friendships I’ve ever had,” Martin said. “You have to give them reasons to be positive… I always climb in bed and I sit next to him and I just love on him… His mom was saying he’s a dwarf, and yes he may be. But I’d say, ‘Brendan you are not small. You are a young man.’”
Martin has participated in every telethon, a donation campaign, since they first called her.
“I wish I could move in to the PCH. Those kids, they’re warriors,” Martin said. “When I hear the negativity that floats around… I just want to take them down to PCH for 30 minutes. I guarantee their lives will change.”
Shelley Martin has many layers to her life, her volunteering and occupation only scrape the surface.
Through her involvement in the motorcycle community Martin has made endless connections. It’s “all she knows.”
“She is genuine and sincere with everything that she does,” said Tracy Cain, Martin’s close friend. “If she tells you that she loves you, she means it. And she would take a bullet for anybody who is genuine to her. She makes you feel loved. She makes you feel special.”
Although she grew up surrounded by the biker community, she herself didn’t get her first motorcycle until 2011. Now she strives to ride through all 50 states; she’s halfway there.
Shelley Martin is passionate about everything, even her unknown hobbies of sewing and painting.
“There are very few people that I let into that because that’s my time out,” Martin said. “I can decompress and find my own center. It’s very easy to get lost, and I’ve gotten lost … I have to pull myself back and that’s how I pull myself back.”
Martin manages to juggle a staggering amount of duties while always staying positive and optimistic.
“When you love something it’s very easy to do,” Martin said. “I don’t think about it; I just do it. I do what’s in my heart. Sometimes gets me buried, and that’s when I bust out my sewing.”
Shelley showed off her hand-drawn tattoo for her dad, along with her freshly cut hair which helped raise $ 2,000 for charity on Saturday.