Knights on Bikes raise $31K for Parkinson’s patients

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Shake Rattle and Roll organizer Debbie Smith holds the check for $31,000 presented Banner Neuro Wellness Center. With her are representatives of the center’s community and members of the Knights on Bikes organization that raised the money. (Photo courtesy of Chris Matthieu, Knights on Bikes)
Shake Rattle and Roll organizer Debbie Smith holds the check for $31,000 presented Banner Neuro Wellness Center. With her are representatives of the center’s community and members of the Knights on Bikes organization that raised the money. (Photo courtesy of Chris Matthieu, Knights on Bikes)

Knights on Bikes, the motorcycle-riding members of the Knights of Columbus, presented a check for $31,000 to help Parkinson’s patients at the Banner Neuro Wellness Center in downtown Gilbert Dec. 11.

The Knights raised the money at their second annual “Shake, Rattle and Roll” ride that took place in November.

The idea for the ride was the brainchild of Debbie and Brian Smith — Debbie is a patient at the center — and Chris Matthieu, head of Knights on Bikes in the Diocese of Phoenix.

“We put our heads together to see what we could come up with,” Brian Smith said. “This helps the center, and contributes to the well-being of Parkinson’s patients.”

Patients receive physical therapy at the center, but Debbie Smith said the center is more than that.

“It’s a community,” said Debbie. “We have workshops, art, music, speech. It’s a place where we get learn about the medications and the different therapies that are out there. It helps us to live with the disease.”

The money will go for new equipment and for operating expenses so the community can sustain the center, which is supported by donations, she said.

Alan Lessard, another patient, was diagnosed five years ago.

“This center really saved my life because I had no place to go. It’s really helped me out a lot,” said Lessard.

The Knights on Bikes started several years ago and now have chapters throughout the United States and Canada, along with the Philippines, said Deacon Bill Clower, leader of the statewide Knights on Bikes. There may be up to 3,000 members worldwide, he estimated.

“It’s just members of the Knights of Columbus who like to ride motorcycles,” he said. “We do parades and events like this one.”

The November motorcycle ride had five different points along the way. Riders picked up a playing card at each point and — at the end —played a poker hand for prizes.

“We’re hoping to continue to grow and grow this event on an annual basis,” Matthieu said.

The key is lining up sponsors and donors, Brian Smith said. Anyone can donate, whether they ride or not.

By Mike Tulumello, The Catholic Sun.

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