The Daily Times

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Wherever the Cause May Lead; Blount Couple to Ride 7,000 mMiles to Aid Those with Dementia

When husband and wife Charlie and Teresa Barnard head out on the highway across 16 states, putting another 7,000 miles on their motorcycle, they undoubtedly will have a little feeling of deja vu.

The two, who have been riding together for 45 years, have visited all 50 states and had a motorcycle adventure in 48 of them. Charlie has calculated they are approaching the 400,000-mile mark.

But when they embark Aug. 26 on their next journey, which will have them touching both the Mexican and Canadian borders, the cause will be different. The duo has trekked across the country in years past, raising money for Habitat for Humanity and Young Life. Charlie rode his bicycle 60 miles in support of Smoky Mountain Service Dogs.

This time it will be in the name of Alzheimer’s and the hopes of building a day care center for victims of the disease, which steals the cognitive abilities of mostly older adults. Barnard is the pastor of First Baptist Church Tellico Village, in Loudon County, and the day care center, which would be called Our Place, also would be built in the village, if enough money can be raised.

Sue Newman is the brainchild for Our Place. This resident of Tellico Village planted the dream after her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and there were no services like a day center close to them. Sadly, he passed away recently, but Newman wants to help others who would benefit from Our Place. Fundraising continues and her goal is to have Our Place operational by early 2022.

This adventure on two wheels that is part of that effort is being called Ride to Remember.

Charlie said when he first heard about the plans for Our Place, he didn’t immediately jump in to help.

“I didn’t need another project,” he said.

But the fact Teresa is a nurse factored in. And when members of his church asked him to attend an informational meeting, they went.

“They had already been meeting for months,” Charlie said. “I know they were struggling on how best to raise money. I have lots of experience raising money, building churches, doing charitable things. Then, I opened my big mouth and said, ‘I will do a motorcycle ride for you.’”

Jumping in with enthusiasm

He went even further, telling organizers his church would contribute $25,000 over what he and Teresa could raise with the ride. Charlie also challenged the other four churches in Tellico Village to do the same. First Baptist Tellico Village and one other church have made the commitment, the pastor said. He expects the others to come on board.

As it stands, Tellico Community Foundation has agreed to donate an acre of land in Tellico Village for the establishment of Our Place. That is contingent upon Our Place raising an initial $200,000, Charlie said.

At first, the Barnards predicted they would raise $50,000, but as coronavirus interrupted everything, Charlie said he scaled that back to $33,000. However, with six weeks left until the ride, this couple is cautiously optimistic $50,000 is attainable.

The money is raised through sponsors, ticket sales for a departure dinner on Aug. 26 at the Barnards’ church, sales of T-shirts and donations from friends and strangers.

Corporate sponsors for this ride are Chick-fil-A in Lenoir City, Alcoa Good Times, Merrill Lynch of Knoxville, Doug Jensen Family and Matlock Tire, along with First Baptist Church Tellico Village. Personal sponsors are needed to donate a flat amount per mile. Alcoa Good Times and owner Charlie Jansing will be providing tires and maintenance.

In addition, there has been a group formed, Tellico Working Together, that includes civic organizations and churches in the community that have banded together to help Our Place become a reality.

“Instead of working independently, we are working together,” Charlie said. “It is certainly a community project because it’s an Alzheimer’s/dementia day center. It will be located in Tellico Village but will serve several communities.”

Teaming up with friends

Along for this 16-state journey will be friends of the Barnards, Mike and Sonia Hosick. The two couples rode together back in 2018 for Young Life, across 10 states.

While the Barnards lead a congregation based in Loudon County, they have chosen to make their home in Blount County. They are graduates of Porter High School. Charlie said as a young boy, he delivered The Daily Times on his bicycle and then by motorcycle.

Their daughter, Rachel Persaud, is a teacher at Walland Elementary School and her husband, Mark, is an EMT at Blount Memorial Hospital.

Two motorcycles with four aboard is the plan when the Barnards and Hosicks embark. Teresa said some people have asked if they camp along the way? Not happening, she said.

“I told Charlie I would follow him anywhere,” she said. “I will ride long days, but at the end of the day, I want a nice bed, a hot shower and a good meal.”

The first time she hopped aboard a motorcycle with Charlie, they were dating. She was 16.

Plans for this monstrosity of a ride already have been affected by COVID-19. Charlie said they started working on it back in January and had grandiose ideas.

“We were going to tie it into the largest party Tellico Village has ever had,” he said. “We were going to bring in all the hoopla. Have this big outdoor event instead of a departure dinner. Then the virus hit. That got all washed away.”

Teresa said with recent increases in the infection rate in some states, they can’t know what will happen as they make their way across the Southwest. National parks could shut down again if things get much worse. The present plan is to visit eight national parks.

The completion date for the Ride to Remember is projected to be Sept. 16.

“We don’t know what lies ahead,” she said. “We might have to change our route. We will adapt.”

For more information about sponsorship, visit www.ourplacetn.org.

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