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  • Ginny Talley

A Dream Come True: The Ride Visits Charity Rider’s Hometown

Charity Rider Marsha Melton shares her excitement for the Charity Ride Revival’s visit to Bedford.

If you mention the name Marsha Melton to someone from Bedford, Virginia, there’s a high probability they’ll know exactly who you’re talking about. Perhaps it’s because Marsha’s family has resided in Bedford since the 1700s. Perhaps it’s because Marsha has carried on her family tradition of being an extremely active member of the community, attending church functions and serving on church committees, working longtime for a local financial firm, and holding positions, both past and present, on the Bedford Public Library Board of Trustees, Friends of Bedford Hospice House Board of Directors, the Bedford Area Education Foundation Board of Directors, the National D-Day Memorial Board of Directors and more. Or perhaps, it’s because Bedford is just one those quaint small towns where everybody knows everybody. Whatever the reason, it’s obvious that Charity Rider Marsha Melton is well-known and well-loved by her hometown.


For Marsha, that same sentiment is very much mutual – she is proud to be from Bedford and proud of all that it offers, which is why she’s always wanted the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America to come visit! Luckily for Marsha, her wish is finally coming true on September 21, 2021, when the “Charity Ride Revival” – a one-time only, mini-version of the larger Kyle Petty Charity Ride – makes its way to Bedford for a pit stop at the National D-Day Memorial!

Having been on the Ride every year since 2014, riding with her husband David Herrick, Marsha has grown to make many memories and friendships that she cherishes deeply. “The two best things about the Ride are the scenery and the people,” said Marsha. “The difference in riding a motorcycle and riding in a car is that in a car you see the scenery, but when you’re on a motorcycle you are a part of the scenery. You get such a different perspective and I think that is just incredible.” But all-in-all, it’s the people who make the Ride what it is in Marsha’s opinion. The friendships formed on the Ride have led to countless memories made both on the Ride and outside of it, having visited riders in their hometowns, enjoying meals with each other, celebrating birthdays, and taking vacations together.


And Marsha hopes the memories continue during the Charity Ride Revival this fall when the Ride visits the National D-Day Memorial. “Everybody wants the Ride to come through their hometown, so this is a dream come true for me to be able to show people how wonderful Bedford is,” said Marsha. “The D-Day Memorial is sacred ground. When you get there, you can just feel the loss of the life to protect our freedom.” From the many riders who have served in the military and those that have family members who have served or are currently serving, to the shared patriotism amongst riders, the stop at the D-Day Memorial will be nothing short of impactful. “It affects your heart. When you’re there, you feel the sacrifices that people made,” said Marsha.


Plus, the town of Bedford is beyond excited to welcome the Charity Ride Revival with open arms. “Everybody is so excited. We’ve been hearing people talk about it everywhere and it’s been publicized in the newspaper recently,” said Marsha. “Everyone knows that David and I have been on the Ride, as well as Len and Meg Cohen – who are also residents of Bedford. So with all of us spreading the word, I’m sure we’ll have a big crowd to welcome us when we arrive at the memorial in September.”


In addition to the memorial, Bedford sits right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the riders will get to enjoy beautiful mountain views on their way in and out of town. “I know in 2018, when the Ride rode the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, I told everyone just how beautiful it was going to be – but then it poured rain the whole time,” said Marsha. “So I’m hoping this time, the sun will shine and everyone will be able to see the incredible scenery on the parkway.”


With beautiful scenery, an incredibly moving memorial and amazing people involved, the Charity Ride Revival’s visit to Bedford is sure to be a hit and something that everyone will remember fondly for years to come. “I hear it all the time just how excited the folks here in Bedford are to have something as exciting as the Ride come to town,” said Marsha. “Everyone is just excited to be included, and David and I are as well.”

Q+A with Marsha Melton:


1. What was your first impression of the Ride?


“Well, my very first day was the hottest day and we were wearing black t-shirts. We stopped in Yuma, Arizona and I just about fell off the motorcycle because I was so hot. Thankfully, Diane Baldwin caught me and took me inside and covered me in ice. At that point, I realized I needed to drink a lot of water and be better prepared or else David was going to send me home! But, I made it and have loved every bit of it since!”


2. You’ve volunteered at Victory Junction before. Tell us a little bit about your time there.


“When you work at Victory Junction and you work with the campers who are so excited to be there, sometimes you feel like you have just as much fun as they do. I worked in the horse stables, which I loved because I grew up with horses. But to be able to help these kids who have never been able to ride a horse before, it is just so rewarding. Victory Junction means so much to the campers, but also to the people who work and volunteer there.”


3. What has been your favorite Ride so far?

“I’d have to say my favorite Ride was 2015. We spent the night in Tonopah, Nevada and it was just the best stop ever! We just had a magical night. We danced and sang, and it was so wonderful. Then, we went through Moab, Utah – and it was one of the coolest places. I always tell my family that I want to go back to Moab and just spend like a month there because I loved it so much. But every year, I always say it’s been the best Ride because it’s so much fun each time. It’s a party that never ends!”


4. If you could describe Victory Junction in one word, what would it be?


“Inspiring. I say that because seeing children with disabilities have so much fun and accomplishing things regardless of their circumstances, that’s what the Camp is all about.”


5. Do you have a favorite memory from the Ride?

“I have too many to name, but one that I’ll never forget is on my first Ride when I met Kyle for the first time, he looked at me and said, ‘I’ve seen all kinds of stuff over the years on this Ride, but never have I seen someone wear pearls while riding!’ Since then, he always picks on me for having my pearls, but I guess that’s just my Southerness coming through!”