Harley-Davidson in Naples gave 10-year-old Jorja Miller the ride of her life last Friday night.
Diagnosed with Wilms Tumor in 2015, a rare form of kidney cancer that affects young children, Miller got her lifelong dream granted after one of her neighbors first pulled up to 3645 Gateway Lane, the Southwest Florida Harley-Davidson headquarters, and told workers of Miller’s story.
Another neighbor sent an email, and so it began. The relationship was sparked.
“One of the neighbors emailed about how sick she is, and that there was a very small window of opportunity,” recalled Rick Berman, Assistant General Manager and General Sales Manager at Naples Harley-Davidson, who handed out his business card to the inquiring neighbor recently.
Berman knew the time was now to give the girl the motorcycle ride she’d always wanted.
“They were expecting only one motorcycle to show up for a ride around the block, but I contacted motorcycle groups and 22 local bikers showed up to her neighborhood. We took her to the beach with her mother, sister and one of her neighbors,” the GM went on to describe.
In addition to getting to ride in a motorcycle caravan alongside Rolling Thunder and Paradise Hog, two of SWFL’s well-known biker chapters, Berman surprised Miller with what he called some Harley-Davidson swag upon arriving to her family’s home last week. On behalf of the Naples location, Miller and her siblings were gifted with biker do-rags and a H-D stuffed animal bear.
Jorja also received her very own motorcycle helmet for the ride, complete with her name engraved.
“When we pulled up Friday night, to see how excited she was – her jaw dropped and she had a big smile on her face, trying to hold back tears – made it all worthwhile. This is what we do, we bring the community together to help people in need. It’s a passion,” Berman said on Tuesday.
This Friday night, Naples Harley-Davidson will continue their support for Jorja and her family by holding a special bike night, which will provide a fundraising opportunity for the community.
While it’s still being planned, people have been all in on the spur-of-the-moment rally, according to Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, Naples Harley-Davidson’s Marketing Manager.
“We did a bike night for the LeBuff family [who lost their home in the Collier County wildfire last month], so we thought it would be nice to come together and do something here again,” he said. “We threw it together in about a week, and feedback has been 100 percent positive.”
Friday night will feature live entertainment, food vendors and non-food vendors, in addition to a 50-50 raffle, Rodriguez added of the upcoming festivities.
With limited time to plan, however, it’s not known who will all be participating at the event.
“I know the owner of a gelato vehicle said he wants to show up and make a donation on the spot. [Paradise] Hog did a 50/50 raffle for the LeBuff family, and the person that won donated their winnings back in. We’re expecting that community involvement again, plus donations.”
According to A-Rod, the Latin American Motorcycle Association wanted to host the event but had a previous engagement, while Rolling Thunder and various other endorsers have notified Naples Harley-Davidson that they have already started collecting money for the Miller family.
Unfortunately for Jorja and her supporters, she won’t be able to be in attendance because of her stem cell removal procedure that was already scheduled for Friday, according to the family.
Yet only one week after experiencing the biggest moment of her life, Miller’s ride continues to be steered in the right direction by Harley-Davidson.
For daily updates and details regarding Friday’s Bike Night event, visit Naples Harley-Davidson’s Facebook page at this link.
What: Naples Harley-Davidson Bike Night: special event benefiting Jorja Miller
When: Friday, April 21; 6-9 p.m.
Where: Naples Harley-Davidson, 3645 Gateway Lane, Naples, Florida 34109
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