by Cesca Janece Waterfield
PICTURED: (Left to right) Tanya Simmons, Gloria Pleasants, Clovia Lawrence of Kiss FM 105.7, Sandee Smith, Sylvia Wall (Ladies of Elegance). Behind Sandee: Racquel Lundy (Lady Unity Rydaz MC), Carol Judkins, Gloria Taylor. Not pictured are Tonza Exum and Christine Richardson.
Richmond resident Sandee Smith grew up watching her mother Shirley ride a motorcycle. As far back as 1979, Shirley, who was known as “Sugar” to fellow bike enthusiasts, organized her own bike association, “All of Us Motorcycle Club.” As a girl, Sandee didn’t understand her mother’s hobby. But before her mother passed away in 1995, Sandee promised her she’d get her motorcycle license.
So in 2001, with Melissa Franklin and Chiffon Alford, Sandee co-founded Supreme Ladies Motorcycle Club. You might say Sandee has discovered what her mother Shirley knew all along. “Her legacy continues with me,” Sandee says.
But there’s a tragic legacy called Sickle Cell Anemia, a genetic blood disorder that affects mostly African Americans. The disease is marked by red blood cells taking on an irregular shape that causes the cells to be rigid, opening the host to health issues, and significantly reducing life expectancy. According to the National Institute of Health, about 1 in 5,000 people are affected with the disease.
On May 2, the Sickle Cell Association of Richmond – Oscar will join the ladies from the Motorcycle and Social Clubs for a Unity Ride from Petersburg to Richmond. Their goal is to educate and heighten awareness among the community about Sickle Cell Anemia. The Sickle Cell Association of Richmond seeks to provide leadership with health professionals and the general public to develop a health policy and plan of action regarding the impact of the disease.
It’s not the first time the Motorcycle Club has organized to help. They have a college scholarship fund and they regularly organize benefits. “We bikers are about helping out in the community,” Sandee says.
The ride will include members of several clubs as well as individual riders, a fact that one event planner, Carol Judkins emphasizes. “We feel it’s an issue that crosses all lines,” she says. “It’s extremely important that everybody gets the message out. Sickle cell has somehow managed to fall into the background. It’s not one of the diseases that gets a lot of focus these days. But it’s still huge with the African American community.”
The ride begins at Petersburg Health Department, 301 Halifax St., Petersburg. Registration 9 – 10:45 am. Fee for each rider is $15, $20 with passenger. The first bike departs at 11:15 am. The event is open to the public. Clubs and riders can register in advance. For more information, contact Sandee Smith at 400-5473, Christine Richardson at 647-5283 or Sylvia Alexander-Wall at 305-3744.