Bikers roar into action for sick toddler

By Sam Boyer

Motorcyclists got their bikes and their wallets out on Saturday in support of 15-month-old Tauranga leukemia patient Sativa Eagle.

The Rotorua Lakes charity motorcycle ride attracted about 100 local bikers and generated more than $4000 to help Sativa's family with the day-to-day costs of fighting the cancer.

Ride organiser Karl Downes said he had originally expected 160 riders to attend the event but when he woke up to rain he knew the turnout would be a bit less.

"As soon as we got up in the morning we thought we'd lose a third of them. A lot of people won't ride in the rain," he said.

Mr Downes, who met Sativa and her family for the first time at the event, said it was a shame more people didn't turn up for the ride because the weather was mostly fine.

"We had a bit of rain up Pyes Pa Rd but the rest of the way was beautiful. Considering the rain at the beginning, everyone was saying we had a really good turnout," he said.

The riders all paid $20 to register and take part in the event, and at the end of the ride an auction was held. The big prize, a Fujitsu heat pump, was won by Chris and Debbie Smith who paid $2000, Mr Downes said. All the money raised went to Sativa's family.

"Everybody said they really enjoyed it. It was a really friendly day. We thought we'd probably raise a couple of thousand and we exceeded that, so that was great.

"They need a new car desperately. I think they're going to put it towards that," he said.

Sativa's mum, Sheree Roose, was delighted with the fundraiser and overwhelmed that Mr Downes, a stranger, would go to the trouble of organising the event.

"A lot of people were really supportive. One lady had her eyes full of tears and said she was praying for us.

"I just about welled-up too, just seeing all the bikes and people.

"It's amazing the community has come together to help somebody in need. It's pretty amazing complete strangers putting their hand up to help," she said.

The family need a new car "desperately" because their old car is breaking down and can no longer be trusted to last the many trips up and back to Starship Hospital in Auckland.

Miss Roose said they already have a car lined up after someone at their church offered them a cut-price deal. The family was grateful for the support, she said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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