Just like many others, Luling resident Amanda Hill found herself feeling some pandemic blues this past spring.
“I woke up one day and with COVID going on and everything else going on I was feeling a little depressed,” she said. “I told my husband, ‘Let’s get some biker friends together and hit up a few seniors to give them something. They’re missing their graduations … I can’t image.’”
Amanda reached out to Amy Troia, a marketing manager at Harley Davidson, to see if the company could provide anything for them to hand out to the graduating seniors.
And the rest, they say, is history.
“She told me to come into Harley and we set up all the grad rides from there,” Amanda said. “Amy did all of the advertising and reached out to all the parents of the seniors. She handled all of the logistics.”
Troia also connected the couple with the over 50 other active riders of Freedom Cruisers Ch. 51, a family-oriented motorcycle riding club.
The Hills joined the club that week and started to participate in rides for high school seniors, and those rides eventually turned into rides for children with special needs, classes of pre-k students, people celebrating a birthday and more.
On top of those rides were the club’s normal rides for charity.
“We were doing rides every Saturday and Sunday from May to July,” Amanda said, adding Harley Davidson provided gift cards, cups, beach balls, koozies, gift baskets and other things for the club to gift to the parade honorees. “Just seeing these kids smile and seeing their parents smile made it all worth it.”
Amanda said 20-30 motorcycles were normally included in the parade cavalcades, and many of the high school seniors – even the boys – were brought to tears by the club’s gesture and gifts.
“What an impact to see them actually cry because they felt like they were being seen,” Amanda said.
The Hills said they hope their own three teenage daughters have learned life lessons from participating in some of the rides.
“My children are very blessed with the things they get,” Amanda said. “I try to show them that not everyone has what they have. By showing them this hopefully they learn that lesson.”
On Jan. 23 the Freedom Cruisers will do their next charity ride, one to benefit Children’s Hospital.
“Honestly, it did bring me out of the funk,” Amanda said of joining the riding club and participating in the parade and charity rides. “It’s really has brought something meaningful to my life. I tend to have some crazy ideas, but these rides are some of my favorite moments of my life.”
For more information on Freedom Cruisers Chapter 51 or to donate towards the rides, visit the group’s Facebook page or www.freedom-cruisers.org.