The idea for the benefit ride originated with Tammy Workman, a member and officer of the American Legion Riders, Chapter 81, who had a mammogram on Bonnie's Bus when it visited the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department in St. Mary’s this past April.
Workman had put off having a mammogram for years in spite of her doctor’s recommendation because she has no health coverage. The staff at the Wetzel-Tyler County Health Department signed her up for the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program, which covers women who do not have insurance for mammograms, and made her an appointment on Bonnie’s Bus.
“I was scared to death, since I had never experienced a mammogram,” Workman said. “But everyone on the Bus was very friendly and patient in answering all my questions and explaining everything to me. The whole process didn’t take long, and no, it didn’t hurt.”
Workman said she wanted to do something to “give back” and to spread the word about the Bonnie’s Bus Program. “What better way to let women know of Bonnie’s Bus than through the American Legion family,” she said. “We have hundreds of members right here in West Virginia. They include veterans, the sons of veterans, and the wives, daughters, granddaughters, mothers, grandmothers and sisters of veterans. The Legion Riders are comprised of all those members who share the common enjoyment of riding motorcycles. So, I asked my Legion Riders chapter to help promote awareness of the Bonnie’s Bus Program.”
With the blessing of her ALR chapter, Workman contacted WVU’s Cancer Center about the benefit poker ride and began learning as much as she could about Bonnie’s Bus.
“I found the Bus on Facebook and went to the Cancer Center website and read all the information about Bonnie Wells Wilson,” Workman said. “I discovered that I am the same age as she was when she died at 46 years of age. I found that she had been from Blacksville, which is only an hour from Pine Grove, where I live. I realized the enormous need for the mobile mammography program in this state and the even greater need to let women know of its existence.”
Workman said she worries that there are others like her who don’t go for mammogram screenings because they have no insurance, or they don’t know where to get one. “I was lucky, but someone else might not be,” she said. “If there is something we can do to change that, then we need to do it.”
Workman mailed dozens of letters and fliers about the benefit poker ride to American Legion Auxiliary units around the state and various motorcycle enthusiasts in the surrounding region, posted fliers on billboards, sent emails and posted information on her Facebook page. She left information about the program at every business she visited in her search for donations for the benefit.
“I commend Tina Rush, who owns Shooter’s in Reader, W.Va., for her gracious support,” Workman said. “Tina, a member of Auxiliary Unit 81, has offered to be our hostess by providing food during the poker ride, holding a silent auction and providing entertainment that evening. She wanted to be part of promoting awareness of the Bonnie’s Bus Mobile Mammography Program and those who may benefit from it, and honor her mom, who is a cancer survivor.”
Registration will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in Pine Grove, and riders will make their first stop around 1 p.m. in Blacksville, Bonnie Wells Wilson’s home town. Their second stop will be around 2 p.m. at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center in Morgantown to see Bonnie’s Bus and visit with the staff. The remainder of the ride will include stops at the Clarksburg Legion Post 13 and Legion Post 81 in Pine Grove before ending at Shooter’s.
“I’m not sure how many riders we will have, but I am hopeful that we will have at least a couple hundred bikes,” Workman said.
Anyone who rides is invited to join. For more information on the ride and how to support the event call 304-815-2308.
The Bonnie Wells Wilson Mobile Mammography Program is a service of WVU Healthcare and the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.
For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087