Franklin Strong event draws hundreds of motorcycles

Bikers pause for a moment of silence at the Big Blue River dam in Edinburgh Sunday.
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Hundreds showed their support Sunday for three Franklin Community High School students hit by tragedy two weeks ago in Edinburgh.

Michael Chadbourne and Jason Moran lost their lives trying to save Sarah McLevish. She became trapped in the Big Blue River during a summer break outing.

Hundreds of motorcyclists lined up at the Franklin Community High School Sunday morning to ride and show their support. It gave a special meaning to their drive from Franklin to Edinburgh and back.

Each motorcycle driver donated $25 while each rider donated $10 to raise money for the families of the Big Blue River Dam tragedy.

"I know [the Moran family] personally and it's just heartbreaking and we wanted to do something to help all three families," said event organizer Christina Snow. That's the reason why she got together with others to organize the charity ride.

After the police escorted trip down U. S. 31, the riders stopped on the bridge by the river.

Once there, riders got off their bikes and joined together for a moment of silence to reflect on the tragedy.

The moment proved to be emotionally overwhelming for some, while others offered a hug to comfort them.

It's the first time Sarah McLevish's mother, Bobbi Hubbard,  has been back to the scene.

She never dreamed how the waters here would change her life, including the international support she's received.

"It is amazing, it really is. It makes your heart swell. You realize how much people care and how tight the community is," Hubbard said.

She tried to thank as many as she could during Sunday's event.

"This is one of my first full days away and we're going to get out here and ride and get some wind therapy," Hubbard said.

She was joined by the family of Jason Moran, one of two teenagers who lost their lives going into the water to save McLevish. The family of Michael Chadbourne were back in their native state of Maine.

Yellow has accidentally become an important color in Sarah's fight.

"It started with just painting her nails the day after the accident one of her friends brought some yellow nail polish and we pulled on her toes took a picture and posted it and it kind of started from there and caught on fire really," Hubbard said.

Yellow could be seen on the motorcycles to show that support, which came from loved ones and even complete strangers.

"I have two boys and when you hear something like that it just breaks your heart and this is how we can kind of show our support a little bit somehow," said Stacy Kinnett of Edinburgh. She did not know any of the three families.

Shelly Hartwell says it's a story that everyone can relate to personally.

"I have a son who fishes at the river and it has broken our whole community's heart to see what the families went through," she said.

The ride lasted about three hours and ended at Time Out in Franklin, where riders took a break from the big day at another benefit event.

Sarah McLevish remains in critical condition. She's relying less on a ventilator and the swelling on her brain has gone down. She blinks and coughs but has not yet talked.

More updates on her condition and information on future events can be found here.

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