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Motorcycle Ride for Cancer Centers

Nov 08, 2011

Courtney Grant, a Girl Scout in Washington, tells her story below.

I looked over my dad’s shoulder at the Astoria Bridge quickly approaching. The 4.1 mile bridge sits 200 feet above the choppy water at its highest point. It was very clear that this was not where I wanted to be. I found out later that my father, who was steering us up the ramp to the bridge, shares my fear of heights. As much as I love motorcycle riding with my dad, I would have rather been at home right then.

Courtney Grant preparing her project.

The three elements that were sitting right in front of me at that point – the bridge, the bike, and my dad – soon became my inspiration for my Gold Award project. As soon as I got home, I began writing up ideas, scenarios, and my project proposal. I wanted to do a motorcycle ride that would not be structured or take place at any specific time.

In my plan, when a participant came across a nice day, they could choose one of sixteen destinations (usually hospitals or cancer centers across Washington or Oregon) and spend the day riding their motorcycle to the destination. The ride would be considered “complete” if they went to all sixteen destinations in a four-month period. The money earned from the ride would benefit my local cancer center in buying the wigs that they give away for free to their patients.

About three months after the ride over the Astoria Bridge, I received word that my project proposal was approved and I was allowed to begin working on the project itself. It was September 28, 2010 – my sixteenth birthday. For five months, I worked on getting approvals through the cancer center and my council before the ride actually started. Flyers, a website, the passport book, financial help letters, prizes, the liability statement – everything had to be approved before I promoted my project to the different motorcycle clubs in my community.

My dad’s return from his first deployment in Afghanistan sparked my desire to attempt the Astoria Bridge ride with him again, but it had to wait. Thanks to my dad’s second deployment, he wasn’t going to be there when I was scheduled to receive my Gold Award. I asked my council for the approval of my Gold Award early, so in July we had the ceremony. Shortly after, on September 15, 2011, my dad deployed to Kuwait for his second and hopefully last deployment. Because of the preparation for his deployment, we did not get the chance to conquer the Astoria Bridge during the ride, but I have been promised that we will go again when he gets back from this deployment.

On the day before my seventeenth birthday, and a complete year from beginning to end, I received a phone call from the Gold Award committee of my council telling me that I am officially a Gold Award recipient. Hearing those words was so overwhelming that I knelt down and started crying. It was like the Heavenly chorus or music to my ears. The common stereotype that the people who ride motorcycles drink, smoke, have tattoos, and are big and intimidating, is often wrong. Through this project, I’ve met some of the biggest teddy bears and a bunch of generous hearts.

My biggest challenge was hearing the word ‘no’. But one thing I learned is that the word ‘yes’ is never far away. Knowing that little bit was enough to keep me going and accomplishing my goal in the timely manner I originally planned. My dad may have been my inspiration, but my mom was my right hand and without her I wouldn’t have been able to do this alone. My advice to any girl who wants to go for her Gold is to not take ‘no’ for an answer and to remember that your parents are your biggest fans and supporters in everything you do. Don’t take that for granted.