Tuesday, August 5, 2014
KINGSTREE, S.C. – Putting a smile on a sick child’s face. That’s is what Saturday’s Biker Noise for Girls and Boys benefit ride is all about according to the ride’s founder and organizer Jake Stevens.
Comprised of a handful of riders from the region, the ride set out from the SC Department of Motor Vehicles in Lake City to visit Hunter Matthews at home with his grandparents in Kingstree. Their goal was to surprise the nine-year-old with a visit and some gifts to bring a bright spot to his week; it was the end of his first week of radiation and chemotheraphy treatments.
For Stevens, who lives in Darlington and works at McLeod’s Hospital in Florence, the Biker Noise for Girls and Boys ride is both a happy and sad experience. He has ridden motorcycles since a child and established the rides last year as a Christmas ride to bring toys to children at McLeod’s Hospital.
“It’s a little bit of joy, a little bit of sorrow as we only do this for sick children,” said Stevens. “You’re happy to see them smile but you’re sad because you know something is not right.”
“Last year was our first run as a group and people come from all over the place to do these rides,” he said. “We found out about this little boy here in Kingstree…we said why not do something for him.” Stevens organizes each ride through Facebook and the group of riders differs each time. A ride can be as few as the half-dozen who visited Hunter or as many as the dozens in the ride to McLeod’s – a ride that Stevens plans to organize annually. Others who cannot make the ride stop by to offer a gift, a donation, or just a simple blessing for the group to pass on.
Connie Braddick decided to join Saturday’s trip to Hunter and said she had several rides to choose from this week and decided to visit Hunter because the young boy’s story reminder her of a child she knew called Heather.
“There were several rides today,” said Braddick. “You just have to decide, not where you want to be, but what speaks to you.”
Arriving at Hunter Matthews’ home, Braddick’s smile was just as big as Hunter’s as she helped him onto the seat of her trike.
Barefoot and clutching his favorite Mario toy, Hunter called the surprise visit “awesome” and gave out hugs to the bikers and was wide-eyed at the gifts handed him; gifts he was shortly playing with on a porch swing with his eight-year-old brother Landon; their older brother, 10-year-old Gage, poured lemonade for the family’s visitors.
Jay Matthews said he explained Hunter’s illness to his brothers by showing them a wart on his finger.
“That’s Hunter’s brain (pointing to his finger) and that’s a tumor. And I said the tumor grows on his brain and it don’t supposed to be there,” said Jay Matthews. “They kind of took it at that but they don’t really understand the severity of it.”
According to Hunter’s grandfather, Jay Matthews, the boy begun screaming in pain two months ago and it took visits to several different doctors to finally discover the chicken-egg size tumor on his brain.
“He missed the last month of school because he was in pain,” said Jay Matthews, a self-employed auto mechanic who usually takes Hunter and his two brothers to school each day during the school year.
Jay Matthews said doctors attributed Hunter’s pain – located primarily in his right hip area – to a pulled hip ligament or even just the boy faking the pain.
“One of his eyes had turned in and I had an eye appointment up here at Dr. Johnson in Kingstree,” said Jay Matthews. At that appointment, Jay Matthew said Dr. Johnson wanted a specialist to look at Hunter.
“The specialist came in on the 18th and dilated his eye and said ‘this boys got pressure on his brain; he needs to go to (the Medical University of south Carolina) right now,’” said Jay Matthews. “We took him straight there and it didn’t take MUSC two hours to tell us he had a brain tumor.
Deemed inoperable, Jay and his wife Brenda Matthews, remain optimistic for their grandson’s treatment and keep their faith close.
“They put in a stent to relieve pressure on his brain and he’s done good on that,” said Brenda Matthews, who added that it was good to see him smiling when Bikers Noise for Girls and Boys arrived.
“He’s been brave through it all,” she said.