By Reginald Rogers/ParaglideNovember 12, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Fisher House provides a valuable service military Families during medical crises, allowing them to remain close as a Soldier receives life-sustaining treatment or medical care. Despite all it does, donations play a large part in funding the organization.
For all that Fisher House has given to the community, local motorcycle builder Hotrodz has decided to give some back.
The shop has taken a wrecked, 1977 Harley-Davidson motorcycle and is in the process of transforming it into a custom, bobber-style bike that will feature several design feature influenced by the Fisher House. The bike is expected to be complete in February and will be auctioned off to the public. Proceeds from the project will go to the Fisher House.
According to the shop's general manager Mark Hendrix, it was an easy decision to make a donation to the Fort Bragg Fisher House.
"A lot of bikers do a lot of charity events and we wanted to throw all of our efforts to one source instead of doing a bunch of different events," Hendrix said. "My father was in the Army for 30 years and I knew about the Fisher Houses through that (experience) and when I first got here, I was hearing that a lot of the Fisher Houses were full, so I thought, 'well, there's the cause.
"If they're full and need funding, then we need to do everything that we do here for them," he added.
Hendrix said the shop's first project was a pin-up contest in which girls dressed up in 1950s styled clothing and customers voted with dollar bills. He said Hotrodz was able to raise $1,500 through those votes to crown the pin-up contest winner.
"That's what kicked it off and so far, we've done everything for them that we could," he said. "This is going to be our biggest one though because it's going to generate the most money.
He said this year marks the first that HotRodz has built a bike for charity. He said the bike began as a 1977 Harley-Davidson that had been wrecked, but not to the point of being totaled. Hendrix said the shop purchased the frame from a customer and disassembled it to see where they could go with it.
"Once we got it apart, the idea of the custom bike is going to evolve to kind of came about," Hendrix said. "We had to replace quite a bit and we're in the process of building the motor in front of customers. So they can watch that as it happens and now comes all the fun stuff."
He said plans for the bike include: a military ammo can as an oil can; a sportbike front end and everything from that point that goes onto the bike will be custom made.
"It will have a bonafide Harley-Davidson drivetrain and engine," Hendrix said, explaining that the bike will also be an old-school bobber. "We're pretty excited about it."
As for the color, Hendrix said they initially thought about allowing the customer to vote on the paint scheme, but as the bike started to evolve into an Army, military theme with the ammo cans, he said the shop decided to go with an olive-drab, Army green color.
"Obviously it will have the Fisher House logos on it," he said. "So we'll see. It's kind of like a work-in-progress."
He said the build will take place every other Friday, with this week marking the bike's third week of being built.
"We do some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that the customers can't watch, like the hardcore welding," Hendrix explained. "Because we do it every other Friday, it will take us until the first Friday in February to finish it and we'll auction it the third Friday in February to finish out our winter bike nights. That'll be a great day."
Hendrix said they've received support from the Fort Bragg Fisher House, in that a representative attends each build night, despite the fact that they're not really bike people, he said.
More than 40 people attended Friday's build, but according to Hendrix, attendance was down on that night. He said the last couple of nights they had at least 50 people attend.
He explained that although customers can watch the bike being built, the entire build process is done by members of the Hotrodz staff.
"It's really exciting and it gives a lot of exposure for our shop," explained Mike Humphrey, one of the shop's technicians. "It's going to a great cause and it's going to be a real nice bike."
Humphrey, who has been working on motorcycles for 13 years, said this is also his first charity bike.
"It's really the first bike that we've built from scratch to donate and like I said, I'm really excited," he added. "Fort Bragg is a big part of our community and with the military and Fayetteville itself, it's a really good chance for us to really show our skills and donate it to a good cause," Humphrey said.
"We think it's pretty awesome," said Shawna Crouch, operations assistant at the Fisher House. "It's a great thing that they're doing, a lot of work and a lot of time and we really appreciate it."
She said the proceeds will be a big help to the organization.
"We provide a lot of things to Families outside of lodging," Crouch explained. "A lot of times we provide the basics that they don't think to bring with them and they don't have to bring it with them. We supply it. We keep the house running to make sure they can be there for their Families and don't have to think about the smaller things while they're here visiting their loved ones."