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Motorcyclists ride 1,000 miles in 24 hours

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By David Davis

Three Chiefland men make an annual endurance ride on motorcycles to raise money and awareness of the needs of some long-term nursing home residents.

Brad Groom and Bruce Bryant have donated about $9,000 in the past five years.

Groom said that through their proud donors, the 2017 Iron Butt ride raised about $1,500 upon completing the Southeast 1,000. The two men created that route, which is not listed with the Iron Butt Association as a sanctioned ride.

The money raised is split evenly between eight needy residents living in Tri-County area nursing homes. The residents of Ayers, Cross City, Tri-County and Williston nursing homes must be long-term residents truly in need of financial assistance as determined by either facility case managers or social workers. The Iron Butt team has no input on who receives the donations.

As part of Iron Butt Association sanctions, riders keep strict documentation from beginning to end, as well as a documented itinerary of all fuel and rest stops. This is an endurance ride and not a race. The IBA rules are very strict and exclude any type of race as a certifiable ride. The team takes all necessary safety precautions.

The team of Brad Groom from Brooks Americare Home Health and retired corrections officer Bruce Bryant and Kevin Smith departed from Chiefland and rode to the southernmost point of Key West where they documented their arrival in a photograph of them at a landmark. This was Smith's first ride.

Groom and Bryant said Friday, Dec. 2, in an interview after the pair finished making their distributions to the four nursing homes that they are both long distance motorcycle riders, a hobby they decided to turn into a charitable fundraiser. This is the fifth year the pair has made rides sanctioned by the Iron Butt Association.

They departed Chiefland Nov. 2 at 11 p.m. and took their picture at 8:15 a.m. on Nov. 3. After a short break of about 10 minutes, the two riders made the return ride along the same route and ended at AMVETS Post 422 in Fanning Springs.

“We took the picture, got on our motorcycles and back we came. We were at AMVETS Post 422 in Fanning Springs at 6 o’clock that night, so we did it in 19 hours,” Groom said. “They are the ones who really need the credit. Without them, we wouldn’t raise near as much money and we wouldn’t feel like that team is behind us. They thank us for putting on an event that they donate money and time to. If that’s not completely selfless, I don’t know what is.”

“Typically, the one that we do is 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours; so it’s straight. You start riding and you stop for gas and that’s it,” Groom said.

They drink Gatorade and energy drinks, water, BC Powder, Goodies, and feast on granola bars as they ride and take restroom breaks while they’re refueling. All stops are kept to 10 minutes or less.

Groom and Bryant said they have developed a partnership with AMVETS Post 422.

“They’ve always been a big proponent and donated $1,000 this year,” he said. “We raised $1,500 this year, then it’s split eight ways. We take two residents from each nursing home who are needy and long term.”

Bryant said each recipient got $185, “which is a lot if you have no money.”

Groom said many residents receive an allotment of about $35 a month.

“It’s a way to give back to someone who may not have any family left,” Groom said.

“You see the smile and appreciation when you hand them that check. They love it. They appreciate it and it’s worth all of it just to see that,” Bryant said. “They just glow at the thought of getting their hair done or something.”

Groom said he is unsure how many more Iron Butt rides they will do, but they have a coast-to-coast ride on their “bucket list.” They plan on riding 2,470 miles from Jacksonville to San Diego in 50 hours or less.

“We’re going to take a week to come back,” Bryant said.