DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - "Ride safe, be smart," the simple, yet impactful words John Strode says to motorcyclists before taking off on a benefit ride.
Strode, or as his friends call him Papa John, has been putting benefit rides together for the last several years. In total he has done over 50 of them. He says, "Central Illinois has quite a need for benefits, so we do a lot."
Dianne Shaw, a woman who works with Strode's wife says, "Every weekend from April to October they're dong benefit rides for someone. He plans them, he promotes them, he participates in them."
Each benefit ride Strode puts together is for someone special, but he says he has a very special place in his heart for the Spirit of Silas ride. In reference to the children he does rides for, he says, "Any little bit we can do and contribute to help find a cure, we're hoping we can save even one."
Strode says he and his wife spend their spare time doing the rides because they feel it is just one simple way they can give back and have fun while doing it. Strode says he has been riding his motorcycle since he was young, and loves that he can pair his passion for riding with passion for helping.
As Papa John Strode continues to make a difference in the community, WAND wanted to award him the Spirit of Central Illinois Award.
Shaw says it best when she says, "He's a very caring and compassionate person, and it's so important to give back, and he just completely displays that. You know, I think of the Golden Rule, and when I think of the Golden Rule, I think of Papa John."