Eagle Riders motorcycle club, which is part of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Club in Sutherlin, (past the Danville-Pittsylvania County Fairgrounds on the way to South Boston) plays an important role in the fundraising efforts to benefit the Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer Association each year.
Trustee Jerry Shelton explains that the club donates what money it raises through the year to a variety of projects in addition to the cancer association.
The club believes in giving back to the community and normally offers over $10,000 in scholarships and the Graduate of Merit program. They work with the school board to identify those in need for their Christmas and Thanksgiving basket programs.
Most of their money for donations come from bingo games.
Shelton is proud of what the Eagles accomplish for the community. “For each of the past ten years we have donated between $11,000 and $27,000 each year to the cancer association.”
Moriah Shepherd, Executive Director of the Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer Association praises the club's efforts. “The Fraternal Order of the Eagles through the Dean Ferris Memorial Poker Run has been an avid supporter of Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer, raising approximately $183,000 over the course of a decade. Each dollar raised through the Dean Ferris Memorial Poker Run has stayed local supporting residents of the city of Danville and Pittsylvania County who are undergoing cancer treatments. Through the generous giving of individuals and organizations such as the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer helps defray the cost of cancer-related prescriptions, equipment, supplies, transportation reimbursement, nutritional supplements, as well as other special needs.”
Vic Ingram, Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors Chairman as well as a lifetime member of the cancer association, is very appreciative of what the Eagles contribute to the community. “What they do is phenomenal because they work tirelessly to gather money to help so many who are affected in our area. Sometimes there is a stigma against motorcycle clubs, but they're some of the most kind and gracious people you'll meet. Jerry Shelton and I are good friends and I am thankful and appreciative of their efforts.”
Ingram shares that he enjoys coming to the annual auction and always buys something. “They work hard contacting businesses and gathering the auction items not to mention the cooking and baking! The ride itself can be taxing. I encourage everyone to attend.”
The club is working on a big project right now designing new t-shirts that will be an ongoing fundraiser. They will also sell tickets for two big 50/50 raffles including a raffle for a Blackstone Grill.
All of this is leading up to the big event of the year, the annual ride set for Saturday, August 20, where the riders (in cars, trucks or motorcycles) will go on a three hour tour through Virginia and North Carolina down to Roxboro. On August 20 participants in cars, trucks or motorcycles registered for the ride meet at the Thunder Road Harley Davidson at 4870 Riverside Drive, Danville (near Blackwell Motors) going toward Martinsville. The ride in 2021 was held on August 21.
The fee is $15.00 per person with all the money going to the cancer fund. Riders came back to the Eagles club located at 5731, South Boston Highway, Sutherlin where a delicious home cooked meal of barbecue, coleslaw, baked beans and a roll awaited them.
A silent and live auction follows with door prizes, 50/50, and loads of fun and fellowship. Anywhere from 50 – 150 riders usually participate, depending on the weather and other things going on in the neighborhood.
Shelton explains that some people just come for the auction that is filled with donations from the public to raise money.
There are a number of Fraternal Order of the Eagles Clubs across the country with six clubs in Virginia. Not all have Eagle Riders.
He encourages everyone to participate. “Even if you just spend a few dollars, it all adds up to help the cancer association. They do a lot of good for people in the community such as buying wigs, Ensure, paying for trips to the doctors, and more.”
The original ride was to benefit Dean Ferris and family in 2010. Beginning in 2012 the club went with Danville Pittsylvania Cancer Association to donate the proceeds from the Dean Ferris Memorial Ride. “We hope to continue to support DPCA and we need monetary donations and auction items from individuals and businesses to make it happen,” Shelton adds.
For information on the club or the fundraisers, call Jerry Shelton at 434-251-2072. You can also call him to donate items for the auctions. The club has a truck and trailer available for pickups of donations. Any donations can be mailed or brought to the Eagles at 5731 South Boston Hwy Sutherlin, Va 24594 or by calling 434-251-0994. Arrangements can be made for pickups.