Black Top Posse hosts St. Jude events

 With hopes that rain stays away and the "thunder" rolls, two big motorcycle events supporting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital are slated in downtown Lucedale. The 10th annual "Destiny Goss Memorial Cruisin' for St. Jude" followed by the second annual "Thunder on Main" are set Sat., Sept. 12. Both events are hosted by Black Top Posse Motorcycle Club, an active group of 18 local cyclists who believe in helping others. One hundred percent of all proceeds collected during the events will benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "It's all about the babies" is Black Top Posse's motto. Black Top Posse, whose emblem is a circle with a deputy badge in the center, started years ago and most original members were law enforcement officers. "Instead of riding horses in a field, they were riding motorcycles on the highway, the blacktop," Dyer said of the club's history. Dyer and his wife Nancy have been members about nine years. Most of the women who participate are passengers. None has their own bike. "Any type bike is allowed but most of us ride Harley's," Dyer said. The Saturday morning event is an escorted motorcycle ride and poker run named in memory of Destiny Goss, the late daughter of Jerry and April Goss of Lucedale. Destiny spent six months at St. Jude before her passing in 2010 at age 17. "Destiny's parents were charter members of the club and after her passing, club members decided to make its mission to raise money for St. Jude," club vice-president Kirk Dyer said. Fundraising events, including monthly Saturday morning breakfast gatherings, raise an average of $31,000 a year for the hospital. "We usually ride up and have a check presentation in June," Dyer said. "We all go up a day or two early and some of us donate blood and some donate blood platelets. It cost St. Jude approximately $250 to $300 for whole blood and $750 for platelets, so this is just another way that we can support the kids of St Jude." Registration for Saturday's ride begins at 8:30 a.m. with Kick Stands Up (KSU) at 9:30 a.m. Bike entries are $15 and backseat passenger entries are $10. Entrants get their choice of a St. Jude teeshirt or hat. Raffle tickets will be sold for giveaways including an Atlanta Braves baseball bat and balls, a twonight stay at South Beach Biloxi Hotel and Suites and meals at Waffle House. Raffles for a 50/50 giveaway will also be sold with 50 percent of the collections going to St. Jude and the other 50 percent going to the lucky winner. Bike riders will leave the George County Courthouse for an 85-mile journey before returning to their starting point. The ride includes a "Poker Run" in which cyclists draw poker playing cards for a chance to win prizes. Each driver gets two cards at the start of the race, one card at mid-point and two more cards at the end. The winning hand gets a free one-night stay and dinner at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. Second place receives $50 and third place gets $25. "Thunder on Main," set in downtown Lucedale, starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. Main Street will be blocked to allow only pedestrian traffic. Businesses and restaurants will be open and a few church groups will have food booths. Featured entertainment will be KneeOn Sisters, Skyler and Aerial Smith. The songwriting and performing duo has Lucedale roots and lived here during their elementary school years. They are daughters of Agricola native Dr. Johnny Smith and his wife, Ginger. KneeOn Sisters has performed at the local St. Jude fundraiser for the past few years. Skyler is a former St. Jude patient, and they are passionate about supporting the cause. The judged auto event showcases cars, trucks and motorcycles, which should all be parked by 4 p.m. Those wanting to park in groups should meet at another location and arrive together at the downtown area before the parking deadline. Parking spots will not be saved due to limited spacing on the street. Automobile show registration is $25 at the event and $20 for pre-registration. Participants will receive a choice of a St. Jude tee shirt or hat. Others can purchase a St. Jude tee shirt for $10 and a hat for $5. A second 50/50 raffle will take place with tickets on sale that evening and a winner announced during the 7:30 p.m. award program at the Coffee Pot Parking Lot public stage. Winners of the car, truck and bike show will also be announced. St. Jude patients will be invited to the stage Sat. at 7 p.m. St. Jude is currently treating eight local children who travel to the Memphisbased hospital regularly for doctor visits. One of those children, 13-year-old Brandon Murrah, is currently hospitalized for a long-term treatment plan. A prayer will be lifted Saturday evening for Brandon and his family. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for anything, because all they should worry about is helping their child live. Visitors are invited to support local businesses and enjoy a day and evening of fellowship. Social distancing per the Center for Disease Control guidelines will be practiced. For more information contact Amanda Howard at 601- 508-2202 or Kirk Dyer at 601-508-8551. Award-winning journalist Nancy Jo Maples has been writing about Mississippi people, places and things for more than 30 years. Contact her at nancyjomaples@aol.com.

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