We’re Not Going to Take It! 13th Annual Brittney Ride for St. Jude

Brittney Ride 2016 "We're Not Going to Take It"

“We’re not gonna take it!” was the rally cry of the 2016 Brittney Ride.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It!”

Slowly they filled the stage, groups of volunteers who make the annual Brittney Ride for St. Jude happen, each group holding up a sign marked with these words.

In the background, the powerful video featuring Dee Snyder singing his band’s marquee song played, Snyder belting out a passionate version against key strokes of a piano.

“Every 2 Minutes a Child is Diagnosed with Cancer” flashes across the screen as Snyder sings, the video transitioning to clips of a mom holding a framed picture of her afflicted daughter. The mother then shaves her head in honor of her child, the video switching between her and heart-wrenching shots of kids in the hospital. By the time the video ends, few dry eyes are left in the grand ballroom.

For the last 13 years Dayle Mallory-Bell and her husband Dan have said they’re not going to take it after losing Dayle’s daughter Brittney to a brain tumor. For 13 years straight they’ve held the Brittney Ride in her honor.

Dayle and Dan 2016 Brittney Ride

Dayle Mallory-Bell and her husband Dan ride into Seven Feathers’ grand ballroom on his Harley.

“We’re going to keep saving children,” said Mallory-Bell. The annual fundraiser she and Dan organize for St. Jude Children’s Hospital has raised over a half-million dollars to date, and this year’s $94,280 tally will push that total into the $600,000 range.

Not surprisingly, it is the local southern Oregon motorcycle community that continues to rally around the cause. Which is apropos considering the idea for the Brittney Ride ignited at another motorcycle fundraiser, the annual “Toys for Tots” ride held around Christmas-time. It was at the 2003 “Toys for Tots” event that Dan proposed the idea of doing a ride in honor of “sweet Brittney” who Dan had never met but knew through Dayle’s stories. For the last 13 years, the Brittney Ride has taken place in October to celebrate Brittney’s birthday.

The wave of emotion that filled the room that night after the showing of the video reached a crescendo during the live auction when local builder Mark Daley of ThunderStruck Customs took the stage. Though their usual medium is motorcycles, once a year ThunderStruck channels its creativity in customizing a couple of guitars for the auction. With AC/DC blaring over the loudspeakers, Daley unveiled a racy red electric guitar tagged with Firestone, Mooneyes and Hooker Headers stickers to a rousing ovation from the crowd. Daley tapped into his love of NHRA race cars for the drag-themed guitar that features an NHRA tree, Super Tach gauge, a piston whammy bar shifter, a fuel switch like you’d have on a race car, and little wheels for volume control knobs. The stickers are from products Daley used street racing in his wild youth trying to win money to make his car go faster.

While the NHRA-themed guitar got the crowd revved up, emotional levels in the room reached another level when Daley got ready to unveil the second custom guitar.

Mark Daley ThunderStruck custom guitar Brittney Ride 2016

Mark Daley holds “Sacred,” the billet guitar ThunderStruck made for this year’s Brittney Ride.

“I was inspired to do this guitar by events that are transpiring in the world today, everything from an athlete taking a knee during the national anthem to a young person desecrating our flag to liberty being at stake and to God being taken out of just about everything. I don’t know how you guys feel about it, but it makes me think. My mom always taught me respect, honesty, integrity and hard work will get you anywhere you want to go. I thank you for that mom, I love you.

“That being said, I see what the world’s doing today and it saddens me to see what people, the lack of respect in the things that they do, that they don’t do. This guitar’s a tribute to all the things it seems to me the world is getting away from and falling short on. Let’s let it rip. We call it “Sacred” by the way.

“It says “We the People” on the very front. On the very back at the top where it’s green is the Statue of Liberty and it goes down into a flag. And when it does that, down at the bottom here, it’s a picture of Jesus and it says “In God We Trust.” The one thing that’s kind of cool about this guitar is that, whoever buys it will have what nobody else really has is this Jesus on the back of it is the exact tattoo that’s on my arm. So we will have something in common forever whoever buys it. It also has the words “Grace” on the front and “Love” “Faith” “Integrity” “Hope” on the back, inspiring words I wish a lot of the world would get back to,” added Daley.

In God We Trust ThunderStruck custom guitar 2016

A special wrinkle to the guitar customized by ThunderStruck this year is a picture of Jesus that matches the one on Mark Daley’s forearm.

The bid for the billet guitar jumped to $5,000 before it even went on the block. A $10,000 bid from the back of the room left auctioneer Jason Allen, a local radio personality with country station Q100.3, with a blank stare and a wide-open mouth. But that lofty sum didn’t seal the deal. The total climbed to a staggering $12,000, the highest ever paid at the Brittney Ride, before Pat and Brenda Kirkpatrick walked away winners. Pat was quick to point it wasn’t about placing a record-breaking bid but helping out the children of St. Jude.

Spirited bidding seemed to be the theme of the night. Right out of the gate, a guitar signed by rockers Def Leppard auctioned off for $1625. The bidding for the Brad Paisley-signed guitar started at $500. Harley-Davidson t-shirts from around the globe also raised good money. One from Waterford, Ireland, sold for $220 while a Memphis “Graceland” Harley tee went for a whopping $500. A military-themed Harley tee package featuring six different shirts sold for $600 to a lady who served in Desert Storm. Another popular item was a “Garden Package” put together by Brittney’s aunt with items that reminded the aunt of Brittney like flowers and butterflies which raised $1825.

Brittney Ride Seven Feathers Casino Resort 2016

Seven Feathers Casino Resort once again was the gracious host of the Brittney Ride, this year’s event including a car show for the very first time.

Dayle and Dan have nailed down the formula for a successful fundraiser. The weekend-long event is held at Seven Feathers Casino Resort which always goes out of its way to make bikers feel welcome. The festivities start with a meet-and-greet Friday night and doesn’t stop till the farewell breakfast Sunday morning. Loverboy rocked it Friday night as Mike Reno and the band had people on their feet and singing along by the end of the set. Saturday started with a scavenger hunt, silent auction, prize wheels, a car and bike show, and homegrown rockabilly by the John Dough Boys. Kudos to James Stewart who won “Best Paint” in the bike show and Beau from Cave Junction whose 1946 Indian Chief won “People’s Choice.” Joe and Linda Milder’s 1940 Buick Special 4-Door racked up the awards at the car show by winning both “Best Paint” and “Best of Show” honors. Janelle Skeen rode away from the event a happy girl after winning the scavenger hunt and a $500 gift certificate from long-time sponsor D&S Harley-Davidson. Skeen said the funnest part of the scavenger hunt was having her friend handcuffed by a local sheriff for a quick photo op.

Saturday night everyone gathered in the casino’s grand ballroom for a sumptuous dinner of carved prime rib and fixings prepared by the fine culinary team at Seven Feathers. Then it was time to get down to the business of raising big bucks for the children of St. Jude in the live auction which raised $39,515 in a single evening.

ThunderStruck Custom chopper Brittney Ride 2016

ThunderStruck Customs, who channeled its creativity into two custom guitars for the auction, makes some pretty mean motorcycles, too!

While the Brittney Ride is always a special occasion, this year’s event seemed even more so. From the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” demonstration by supporters to the impetus behind the ThunderStruck guitar this year to the record amount it sold for, the 2016 Brittney Ride was special indeed as bikers in my neck of the woods once again banded together to support the worthwhile cause.