Love, Motorcycles and Giving Back
Charity Riders Andrew and Whitney Burnette discuss falling in love with each other and the Ride
Never underestimate the power of making connections. You never know who you might meet or what people you know may introduce you to – the world is full of possibilities and opportunities. For Charity Riders Andrew and Whitney Burnette, they can thank one person for introducing not one, but two, incredible experiences into their lives. Those two things would be finding lasting love and the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America.
You see, Andrew works for Shelby Amos – the son of the late Aflac co-founder, John Amos, and a prominent businessman in western Georgia. One of his business ventures, together with his wife, Wanda, was owning the local hockey team in Columbus, GA – the Cottonmouths. By default, Andrew was recruited to help with the team and work during the games. As with many sports teams, the Cottonmouths hired dancers to form a dance team to perform during the hockey games. One dancer in particular caught Andrew’s eye: Whitney. The two hit it off right there at a hockey game and two years later, they married in 2016.
Less than a year before their nuptials, Shelby introduced Andrew to another life-changing adventure. Shelby had been participating in the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America for several years. He knew Andrew also loved to ride motorcycles and they would often ride together around Georgia and nearby places. In 2015, Shelby took Andrew along with him on the Ride and Andrew immediately fell in love with it. The following year, Andrew knew his new bride needed to join him for the experience. Whitney had ridden on the back of a motorcycle a few times before meeting Andrew, but as soon as they started dating, motorcycles became a big part of their relationship. They even had a motorcycle in their wedding photos! So naturally Whitney jumped at the opportunity to join Andrew for the 2016 Ride. They’ve been back every year since.
“My favorite Ride so far was the corner-to-corner route in 2019,” said Andrew. “To be able to say we made it through all types of weather and hardships and truly go all the way across the country is pretty special.” While the corner-to-corner Ride is a close second, Whitney enjoyed the 2017 Ride the most so far. “We got to ride through Yellowstone and the Badlands and across the Pacific Northwest,” said Whitney. “We were supposed to see Mount Rushmore, but Mother Nature had other plans. Ever since then, it’s been my goal to get back to see it without all the fog!”
Aside from riding all over the country, it’s the people that truly keep Andrew and Whitney coming back. “The camaraderie and sense of family among the riders is just incredible,” said Whitney. “We’ve made a lot of really good friends on this Ride.” For example, they’ve gotten super close with fellow Charity Riders Kevin and Kelly Rabourn. “We take turns visiting each other now outside of the Ride. In fact, the Rabourns just had us up to Indiana for Thanksgiving last year,” said Whitney. “That’s probably 95 percent of why we enjoy the Ride so much – it’s the people.”
As if riding motorcycles and making friends wasn’t already great, throw in getting to help so many deserving kids – it’s the icing on the cake for Andrew and Whitney. “To be able to see the kids’ reactions to the motorcycles at pit stops whenever Victory Junction campers are invited out to see the Ride is pretty neat,” said Andrew. “It’s really kind of hard to put into words what the Ride means. But for me, I get to take two things I love – riding and traveling – plus being able to help people at the same time. I mean where else can you do all that together?”
It's one thing to say you’re helping to raise money to send kids with chronic and serious medical conditions to Victory Junction, but the cause hits closer to home when you personally know someone who benefitted from it and you see the impact and memories forever etched in that camper and family’s hearts. “I think about fellow Charity Riders Scott and Lynn Grant and their daughter, Hannah, who recently passed away,” said Whitney. “She got the opportunity to visit Victory Junction and experience a whole new world of activities that her family never thought possible due to her ailments and physical limitations.”
Knowing how much that visit to Victory Junction meant to the Grants really put the Ride into perspective for the Burnettes. “It means a lot to know that what we’re doing on the Ride is for kids like Hannah, providing them the opportunity to go to Camp and just be a kid, regardless of their medical circumstances,” said Whitney.
Q+A with Andrew and Whitney Burnette:
1. Do you have a favorite Ride memory?
Whitney: Childress, TX in 2019 will forever be one that sticks out in my mind. It’s not every day you can say you outran a tornado on a motorcycle. The town came together so quickly to protect and take care of us.
Andrew: The parking lot party, when we have pizza and beer, is always fun for me. We come together no matter where we’re at – it doesn’t have to be a fancy place. We’re just likeminded people having a good time.
2. What motorcycle do you currently ride?
Andrew: I’ve got a 2021 Harley-Davidson Limited.
3. What state/region is your favorite to ride in?
Whitney: Mine is probably out West. I love Colorado and Wyoming – it’s just beautiful out there.
Andrew: Yep, I would have to agree with that.
4. If you could describe the Ride in one word, what would it be?
Whitney: Adventurous. Kyle takes on all kinds of adventures. You just never know what’s going to happen with him in charge. I know I would have never seen the Ball of Twine in Darwin, MN if it wasn’t for him.
5. Where is one place you’ve never been, but want to visit on your motorcycle?
Whitney: The Grand Canyon…but we’re about to knock that off the bucket list on the 2022 Ride!
Andrew: I would actually like to ride to the Arctic Circle through Alaska one day.