Motorcycle riders raising money for Columbus hospital - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Motorcycle riders raising money for Columbus hospital through 48 states

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Over the next three weeks, twelve men from Columbus will be raising funds for the Children's Miracle Network.  They're called Scott's Miracle Riders, and they left Friday morning for a 9,000 mile trip through 48 states at noon. 

It began in 2009 when Scott Ressmeyer, the owner of Country's Barbecue Restaurant, rode the entire distance by himself.  The event gained national notoriety and is now a major source of funding for fighting cancer and other terminal diseases affecting children.

During the departure ceremony, one of the young patients for whom they are fighting took a ride of his own.

Martin Thiele was chosen to cheer on Scott's Riders from the sky in a helicopter.  A 16-year-old student at Hardaway, Martin has spent most of his high school years in the hospital, isolated from his friends and classmates, due to his diagnosis with a rare form of cancer.   

"Because Martin was having chemotherapy, his immune system had been completely wiped out. So anyone who was coming in from outside, you know, with typical germs that we are exposed to day-to-day, his body wasn't able to fight them off as well as mine or yours," said certified child life specialist Meg Johnson.

Until recently, no one could visit Martin in the hospital without wearing gloves and a mask.  It's a tough road for a young person who would much rather be experiencing the outdoors and enjoying his youth. He even misses going to Math class.

"When he came in, he was very depressed. He was tired of seeking treatment; the treatment process that he was on was very strenuous and very difficult on his body," said Johnson.

Martin credits his positive outlook on life and survivor attitude for keeping his illness at bay.  He's been an inspiration to other young patients with similar conditions.  When he's older, he wants to be a nurse so he can continue to help others.  The past few years have almost been like early schooling.

"I've learned my share of things, yeah, I'm able to do a lot of stuff that I see the student nurses do," said Thiele.

As his health has improved, Martin has succeeded in accomplishing many things.  He recently received his learner's permit for driving, and he just returned from a make-a-wish trip to Hawaii.

"I got to swim with a dolphin and kiss a dolphin and I've always wanted to do that, so that was a wonderful experience.  That was really fun.  If I could, I would so do it again," said Thiele.

Martin's trip to Hawaii was his first ever plane ride and on Friday he did what much fewer people can claim to have done: he toured the skies of Columbus and Phenix City in a helicopter, flown by volunteers from the Metro Narcotics Task Force.

Officials at Columbus Regional Hospital call Martin Thiele a role model, showing everyone how to turn a life-threatening situation into an inspiration and source of motivation.  He's currently winning his fight against cancer and he's looking forward to his return to school in the fall.

This year's ride is especially emotional for the founder, Scott Ressmeyer, who recently lost his father to a heart attack.

"I've actually got a picture of him sitting on a tricycle.  That'll be there the whole time with me.  He always wanted to do the trip.  And I said Dad, you've never even rode a motorcycle in your life, how could you do this trip?  And he said, put me in a side car, I'll ride in a side car next to you.  And I said, no way I'm doing that. So he'll be there the whole trip this year," said Ressmeyer.

The riders will broadcast live updates on News Leader 9 until the trip concludes.  They will update us from the road twice per day: at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., from a live camera on Ressmeyer's helmet.

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