July 20, 2014
We ride to cure the kids!
2014 Chicagoland Ride for Kids
Our bikes are tuned up and we're ready to hit the road!
Our team is registered to participate in the Chicago Ride for Kids to support the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Ride for Kids is a national motorcycle event that raises money for medical research and family support. We're riding to help kids and their families beat the odds against one of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer. We are raising money in memory of our beautiful daughter Melanie. This is our story
Our daughter, Melanie Lauren Hatch was only 5 months old when she was diagnosed with an optic pathway glioma brain tumor. The prognosis was grim. None of the 5 doctors that were consulted gave any hope of Melanie living to see her first birthday. What the doctors did not know is that Melanie and God had a different plan.
Despite the grim prognosis Melanie lived past her first birthday, then past her 2nd. It was at this point her family was contacted by Mike Traynor. He was a newspaper man from Atlanta who had a contagious determination to find the cause and cure for this devastating disease that was taking the lives of innocent children across the world. “This was the first time in our lives that we felt real hope that maybe we could beat the odds, buy some time for Melanie with treatment until a cure is found”. Our family jumped in with both feet. We would do anything necessary to help Mike to grow the Ride for Kids Program and find a way to help not only our daughter but all children who had been diagnosed with brain tumors.
Melanie was a true ambassador for the Ride for Kids. At the age of 3 she decided that she wanted to sing a song for the motorcyclists who raised money to help. While on stage at the Celebration of Life she sang “Mr. Sun” to 1,000 motorcyclists and they loved it. When it was time to give up the microphone she said “Oh no, I have another” the crowd went crazy and cheered for her to sing another song. So, her days of being an ambassador for the Ride for Kids began. The next year she sang her song on WGN radio with Bob Collins. He later told us that the switchboard lit up with people wanting to get involved and donate. By popular demand, she sang songs each year for the next ten years. People told us that her bright smile and courageous spirit were what brought them back to the Ride for Kids each year. When she was 13 she told us that this year would be the last time that she would sing. We asked her why and she said that it was time for the other children to be in the spotlight and have the fun that she had had for so many years. She sang “If I can dream” by Elvis Presley. There was not a dry eye in the crowd. It was very moving and a wonderful way to end her Ride for Kids singing career! The end of her singing at the event was not the end of her attendance or involvement with the RFK. She attended over 100 fundraising events, chapter meetings, Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation annual meetings and other Ride for Kids events across the country. She appeared on WGN and WLS television in Chicago with local celebrities encouraging people to join the fight to find a cure. She never turned anyone down if they wanted her to help promote the Ride for Kids. As she got older she donated her own money. In 2012 she saved and donated $500 and in 2013 she saved and donated $1,000. Not bad for someone who was unable to find a job due to her vision impairment (a result of her brain tumor)
All of the things that Melanie did to support the Ride for Kids were done while she was receiving treatments to keep her brain tumors in check. All but 7 years of her lifetime she was actively in treatment with 6 different types of chemotherapy, and radiation. Despite all of these efforts, in 2009 her tumor went from low grade to malignant just as she was completing her first year of college. She continued to fight the tumor with new chemotherapy agents but those agents were more toxic than many of the others that she had received over her life. These agents along with years of treatments took a toll on her liver. She had to stop all treatments so her liver could recover. In August of 2013 a group of motorcyclists who have supported the Ride for Kids honored Melanie by forming a motorcycle chapter in her name. “MEL’S ANGELS” held their first meeting with a full police escort of 35 motorcycles roaring through Kane County and ending up at Melanie’s home. She was totally surprised, delighted and honored. She told us later that she would never forget that moment and knew that someday a cure for brain tumors would be found. She knew the dedication of so many wonderful people would continue even if she is not here.
Melanie died on Christmas Day 2013. She attended 23 Chicagoland Ride for Kids events. She loved motorcycles and those who ride them. To Melanie, they and the Ride for Kids represented hope that one day there would be no more brain tumors. She used to tell us that it was not the return of the birds and flowers that indicated springs return, it was the sound of motorcycles roaring down the road that excited her. Her spirit will always be with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and the Ride for Kids.
If it were not for research and new treatments that were a direct result of donations made to the Ride for Kids, Melanie would not have had 24 years of life with her family. 24 years of hugs, kisses, laughter and love are a direct result of the donations made to fund research finding better treatments for children with brain tumors. We are so grateful for the years that she was on earth with us. We are so grateful to all of those who donate to the Ride for Kids.
Please continue to help with your generous donations to keep hope alive for all children who are fighting this awful disease. Together we can and will find a cure to stop brain tumors in their tracks. Together we can provide hope for a bright future for children afflicted with this disease.
Quoting Melanie’s last words to the riders of the Chicagoland Ride for Kids “Now, Lets Ride!”
Steve and Loretta Hatch
|Denotes a Team Captain|