Clarksville, Tn — Heading into the weekend, I was looking to “latch” onto a ride, so I called one of the three guys I’m going to Sturgis with this summer, and suggested we get together to discuss our upcoming adventure. He said he already had plans for Saturday, but I was welcome to join him.
So I did, and I was humbled by what I experienced.
The Benny J. Humphrey Memorial ride was a true testament to the character, love and respect that Benny Humphrey had to those who knew him best. I now wish I was one of them.
Benny Humphrey died doing what he loved to do. riding his motorcycle. It’s still unclear what happened, but two years ago, Benny left the road, hit a culvert, then slammed into a metal pole and died at the scene. His wife of 22 years, Sandra “Sandy” Humphrey, says she was at home when she heard a knock on the door.
“It was the police and I knew something was wrong” she said. “They said Benny had been in an accident, and was being airlifted to Nashville.”
But he didn’t make it to Nashville.
“He was gone” she said.
Rob Leuenberger, organizer of the event and one of his closest friends said, “He never met a stranger and he got along with everybody.” “We met at work and developed a friendship that I will never forget” said Leuenberger. “I will host this ride forever, even if I’m the only one who comes to ride.” “He was my friend, my brother and I miss him.”
The brotherhood of bikers is something that I’ve witnessed and appreciated during this journey. The people I have met along the way are some of the most genuine, caring, respectful and loving people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Bikers have got your back. Bikers will do anything for their brothers and sisters. Bikers care and bikers love. I saw that in a special way this weekend and I was humbled.
Steven Tyler, a friend and former co-worker said of Benny, “He was a down to earth guy and he connected with everybody.” “He was an amazing mechanic and could fix anything.” “I watched he and Sandy become best friends and soulmates, and he loved her,” Tyler said.
As we would stop for breaks along the ride, I would ask some of the others about Benny and they all said the same thing. They loved him and they missed him. We would ALL be honored if we left that sort of impression on those around us. Just an average, ordinary kind of guy who worked to better himself, and loved his family and friends. He made an impact on many people and I was honored to see that.
Sandy would say, “He was the only father that my daughter knew. He loved us and we were a great family. When we met, I thought he was “cute” and he had a good job and a car, so that was important” she would say. “I had made some bad choices along the way, and when I met Benny, my life changed and I was so grateful, I loved him”
The ride included a “fly by” in front of Benny’s mother’s house, then we ended the ride with a visit to his final resting place. It was there that many of his friends would share some of their fondest memories of Benny.
When asked what she remembered most about Benny’s death, Sandy would say, “friends came from everywhere.” “I never knew so many people cared so much about me and Benny.” “Carol Leuenberger, Rob’s wife, was here every single day.” “I couldn’t have gotten through this without her and all of those people you met at the ride today.”
I’ve made some incredible memories on this journey I’m on. I’ve made some amazing friends along the way, but to be a part of this event over the weekend tops it all. Listening to friends of Benny talk about him, remember him, share their most special memories of him was special.
We don’t realize the opportunity each of us have to impact others that come our way. We take too much for granted. We can be too selfish and self serving. Just the simple pleasure of making friends that you connect with and share your life with is something that many of us have been missing. Sometimes, we just don’t know how to be that special friend, or we’re afraid to get that close to people.
These people were family. They were brothers and sisters. There was love and respect, pain and sorrow, yet a celebration of a life that was special. I will never forget this day.
I regret that I never knew Benny J. Humphrey, but I’m thankful that I got to see the love that he created among those who knew him best.
Rest in Peace my brother. We will meet on the other side.