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Bikers put in miles so ill kids can smile

Posted on: 06/03/2002

Bikers put in miles so ill kids can smile


Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer

Mandy Dean had to take hormone shots for three years because a brain tumor stunted her ability to grow.

The nightly shots worked: She grew 6 inches taller.

David Tulis / AJC Local residents and visitors watch fund-raising motorcyclists ride around the Dahlonega square Sunday. Most important, though, the 2002 South Gwinnett High graduate is a brain tumor survivor. She plans to attend Georgia Perimeter College this fall, helped by a $5,000, two-year scholarship from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the United States.

"I want to work with cancer kids," said Dean, before about 2,000 motorcyclists revved up their bikes to take part in Sunday's 2002 Ride for Kids event, an annual foundation fund-raiser. "I want to help other people."

Motorcycle enthusiasts from across the Southeast turned out to do just that as they joined a 60-mile trek from Alpharetta's North Point Mall to North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega.

It was the 19th Atlanta Ride for Kids event, and it raised $282,665 -- money that will help pay for pediatric cancer research and provide family support, said Mike Traynor, a former Atlantan who co-founded the North Carolina-based foundation with his wife, Dianne.

In 1984, the Traynors organized the first ride for a colleague whose child died from a brain tumor. That event, which originated in Clarkston, drew 100 riders.

These days, Ride for Kids charities staged in 22 cities across the country attract thousands of participants and raise lots of money. Since its beginning 18 years ago, Traynor said, the foundation has collected $15 million.

And this year, five events in Texas, California and elsewhere have raked in $585,000. The next one takes place June 22 in Knoxville, Tenn.

"More than 86 percent of the funds go toward programs," said Traynor, who on Sunday piloted a Honda ST-1100 to Dahlonega. "I never knew that an event that started in Clarkston would grow to this magnitude."

Carol Dean, Mandy's mother, used one word to describe the support the foundation gives families: "Overwhelming." Mandy, a 10-year brain tumor survivor, was diagnosed with the disease when she was 8.

"She's had to deal with adult issues at a young age," Dean said. "All of the brain tumor kids have to."
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