A Harrisonville doctor and several nurses from the Cass Regional Medical Center laced up their boots, put on their helmets and climbed aboard their motorcycles on Aug. 16 to help their patients.
The annual Healthy Angels Ride was launched in 2005 by three nurses who live in the county and worked at the hospital: Ginger Friesz, Sheryl Knox and Kathy Selley.
“We have a love for motorcycles and a love for our patients,” Friesz said. “It’s surprising how many people need help.”
Joining the nurses were Harrisonville doctor Richard Price and more than 100 other motorcyclists who traveled 100 miles throughout Cass County as part of the annual fundraiser. The event supports patients who need extra financial assistance for their medical care through the hospital’s Patient Assistance Fund.
“They have a passion for wanting to help their patients,” the medical center’s administrative director, Sonya McLelland, said of the nurses. “When you have that kind of passion behind you, it’s very easy to go ask people to help you help others.”
Friesz and Knox still work at the hospital. Selley has since moved into a different role in hospice care but returns every year to participate in the ride.
“All three are very good nurses and they are strong advocates for their patients,” McLelland said. “They have a passion for wanting to help.”
The Cass Regional Medical Center Foundation sponsors the event.
The hospital’s case management team, consisting of a social worker and nurses, helps identify patients who need the assistance.
Funds are primarily used for transportation and medication.
“There are so many patients that don’t have something as simple as a ride home from the hospital,” McLelland said. “It’s another tool that helps make patient lives easier and gets them on the road to recovery faster.”
The nurses who organize the ride said they have participated in a number of rides for various causes in the past across the Kansas City area but wanted to create an event to benefit hospital patients locally.
Before this year’s ride, the fundraiser had generated more than $34,000 to help approximately 650 patients. Saturday’s ride raised an additional $6,200.
On Saturday morning, the nurses led the parade of sorts throughout the county’s rural highways, with Friesz and Price, her passenger, in front.
“He not only trusts me with his patients’ lives, but also with his life,” said Friesz.
Knox added that the event has grown every year by word of mouth.
“People come and then they tell other people,” Knox said.
Some riders participate year after year, including 80-year-old Eddie Martello of Harrisonville. He’s missed the event only once, when his motorcycle was in the shop.
He rides with a small group of other motorcyclists representing the American Legion Riders.
“I think this is about one of the best rides we have around here,” Martello said. “Everything is real organized and you don’t have to stop at any bars.”
Martello said the money raised goes toward a good cause.
“It helps out the hospital and the patients,” Martello said. “You meet some good people here every year, too.”
Motorcyclists stopped at the Cass Regional clinics in Archie, Kingsville and Peculiar. At each of the stops, motorcyclists had the opportunity to participate in a Dice Roll and enjoyed snacks.
In honor of the ride's 10th anniversary, organizers also added a 97-mile car cruise to Saturday’s event. Seven cars participated.
Stops for the car cruise included the medical clinics in Drexel, Garden City and Pleasant Hill.