Posted: Jun 2, 2013 3:30 PM by Erin Schattauer
Updated: Jun 3, 2013 12:01 PM
BOZEMAN - McKenzie Sacry stood clutching her camera, waiting for the rev of motorcycle engines.
While she wasn't the only one waiting, the string of bikers that began trickling into the Highgate Assisted Living parking lot, meant something different to her.
"She would just be ecstatic to know this was going on," Sacry said while she waited for the bikes to arrive.
The "she" Sacry was referring to is her mother, Sandi Jo Young.
Last October, Sandi Jo, a resident at Highgate, was in hospice care, suffering from liver disease. She had one last wish - to ride a motorcycle one more time before she died. It was made possible when the members of the Golgotha Biker Ministry stepped forward to make her wish come true.
Sandi Jo got her ride last October. She died just a few weeks later. But now, her memory lives on through a unique bond that was forged from that single act of kindness by a group of bikers.
This weekend, the first ever Sandi Jo Memorial Harley & Hotrods Show was held at Highgate. Bikers came from all over the state to visit with residents, show their bikes and share in the memory of Sandi Jo.
"It's just a really incredible feeling to know I'm not the only one that loved her," her daughter said.
As the bikes began to roll into the parking lot, Sacry raised her camera, snapping shots of the bikes and people.
Conversation and smiles are shared easily between Sacry and the group's chaplain, Lee Williams, the man at the helm of this event. Last year, when he learned of Sandi Jo's last wish, he ran with the idea. Instead of showing up with a single bike for her ride, he brought many.
He remembers the moment when he realized that something a lot bigger could be done to honor Sandi Jo's memory.
"When we came here and gave Sandi that ride, when we left, my wife asked me later that day, she said, 'Did you look back at the building?...You'd have seen four or five faces in every window and the people wanting to see what was going on.' And I looked at my wife, and I said, 'Kelly, they will see what was going on. We will bring it to them.'"
This weekend, he did just that.
Dozens of bikers made the trek to Bozeman for the event. They visited with residents, even helping seniors climb aboard a bike for photos.
"I feel humbled by this response," Williams said, looking around.
Now, what started as a woman's last wish, has grown into a partnership that's bringing joy to many.
"Reaching out to people that just want nothing more than interaction, and if nobody else is willing to come do it, Jesus said, 'Send someone.' I said, 'Send me,'" Williams said.
For a daughter, the event is a lasting memory of her mother.
"It's huge. I think we're all going to be gone someday and all we leave is the memories and it's all about the people and the relationships," Sacry said.
For residents, at Highgate and the Golgotha bikers, it's the start of a new friendship.
"We want to make sure we're a part of their lives for the rest of their lives," Williams said.
Click here to learn more about the Golgotha Biker Ministry.