COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – The Shifting Gears Motorcycle Group hosted an hour-long ride that was part of an event at Harley Haven to support Erica Bryant — a local mother with Stage III breast cancer.
The event included a barbecue lunch donated by vendors, live music, a silent auction and crafts vendors. Motorcyclists gathered and rode together for an hour and came back to Harley Haven to enjoy food and drinks. Shifting Gears says all proceeds go to the Bryant family.
Bryant was recently diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), a rare and very aggressive type of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. The National Cancer Institute reports IBC accounts for only 1% to 5% of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. and spreads quickly — in a matter of weeks to months — so, it is typically diagnosed in advanced stages.
Bryant’s family was “floored” by the diagnosis.
“I guess besides a death in the family, you know, that’s pretty close about as heartbroken as you can get,” says Bryant’s mother-in-law, Vickie Saverance.
IBC typically requires multiple forms of treatment to stop the cancer cells from spreading, according to the American Cancer Society.
Erica is undergoing mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Due to her aggressive treatment, her husband, Chad, has had to take time off work to care for their three children. As Chad is the sole provider for the family, the mounting medical bills and daily expenses began to pile up.
When Mike and Gina Lafferty, founders of Shifting Gears, learned about Erica’s story, they started planning the event on behalf of their motorcycle riding group to support the Bryants. The Laffertys even created a 501(c)3 nonprofit branch of Shifting Gears specifically to benefit Erica’s treatment costs.
“The American Cancer Society is a fantastic society, a lot of money in the research,” said Lafferty. “They put a lot of money into developing drugs to help people out. But, that doesn’t help people that are struggling just to pay for those things.”
The Mike and Gina were especially touched by Erica’s story because of Mike Lafferty’s own family history.
“My mother is a breast cancer survivor. My cousin died at the age of 36 from breast cancer, so this really hit home for me, and we want to make sure Erica gets everything she can and all the help she can get,” says Lafferty.
Erica says today’s large turnout of 200-300 motorcyclists gives her hope. “I love it. I just would have never thought that this many people would, you know, reach out, or even show up,” said Bryant. “Just to help me.”
If you weren’t able to make it to the event, donations are accepted on rideshiftinggears.org/ride-for-erica.
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