AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Riding a motorcycle is a spiritual experience for members of Bethany Assembly of God in Agawam.
They find peace in riding together as the Bethany Bikers, surrounded by the great outdoors.
“We’re geared, and we’re more interested in the rider themselves, their needs, their spiritual needs, and developing relationships, friendships, to help out when we can,” Kenneth O’Connor told 22News.
They have to be safe in order to enrich themselves spiritually on a bike ride. That’s why on the sunny, warm first Saturday of May, bikers began their riding season with a blessing: a blessing that they stay healthy and safe. Even though these riders are safe on their bikes, there’s always danger when they head out on the roads, especially on the highways. Before each ride, the Bethany Bikers begin by reviewing a safety checklist.
“We try to remind people that it is so important to wear your safety gear and be cognizant. We’re going to honor our police and fire here but we need to honor those guys and listen to what they say. The rules are not a suggestion,” said Fred Gardner, a Bethany Biker.
Motorcycles are used for more than pleasure rides: they’re important to many police departments.
That’s why some West Springfield Police officers brought their bikes to be blessed as well.
In that blessing, led by Pastor Brad Whipple of Seaport Community Church in Groton, Connecticut, riders remembered the more than 4,000 people who die each year from motorcycle accidents. Their message to other bike riders was to be cautious of distracted drivers, ride staggered and approach intersections with caution. Their message to car drivers was to remember the saying, “look twice, save a life.” That extra second could save their lives.
Bethany Bikers have fundraisers throughout the year and support other local riding groups, such as the Buffalo Soldiers. At the bike blessing, the Bethany Bikers raised money for breast cancer awareness and treatment.