The sounds of revving engines echoed around Bay Minette early Saturday afternoon. Nearly 80 bikers from Mobile to Pensacola and all around Baldwin County rolled in to support little Starla Chapman.
“The first year when we did it, we actually rode to the hospital to see Starla,” Marsha ‘MsOnDaGo’ Stevens, founder of Rider for Starla, said. “And all the bikers got out there and we said a prayer for her and she saw the bikes and she was fascinated.”
Starla, 4, was diagnosed with leukemia back in 2011, which led to the first ride by the BMB Rockets MC and Rockettes SMC in 2012.
“That was actually during the time that Starla was in the pediatric ICU and during the time that she was actually able to go downstairs and actually see everybody just assemble at the front of the hospital and offer up words of prayer for her. It was amazing,” Starla’s mother DeAndra Chapman said.
“We get this stereotype that bikers are rebellious and all this, but we help people from different walks of life, different professions, and we are relevant,” Stevens said. “(We want) to let you know that bikers are relevant. And we do a lot of work for our community.”
After a tough fight, Starla has been in full remission for more than a year and a half. You wouldn’t know by looking at her what a battle she’s been through.
However. while the event began as a way to raise money and support for Starla, it’s grown into a lot more than that.
“She inspired us so much that we just wanted to do it again,” Stevens said. “And we wanted to keep her name alive by doing a scholarship fund.”
Now each year one high school senior in Baldwin County will receive the “Just Trust” scholarship to jumpstart his or her next stage in life.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Chapman said. “It’s just a blessing to be able to give back to the community in this magnitude and to be able to bless a senior, a high school senior with this scholarship who would otherwise may not have not have gotten a chance to attend college.”
The bikers also raise money for other kids struggling with illnesses of their own. All in honor of the tough little girl who beat hers.