2014 was a very long journey for us at GT-Moto. We built our first bike, which was followed by thousands, and then gave it away to one fellow rider, all for just one major reason... Cancer Research.
The story begins with my Dad, a very talented man who most do not know. He is an aircraft mechanic who travels the world to oversee major work being done to private jets. He is a wonderful cook, who once owned his own restaurant. He restores old classics back to their original glory, no matter if it is a car or motorbike. He is a single father who gave his kids the world. He is the one who always puts others first and is there to help anyone who is in need. He is a teacher to those who crave to learn a dying art. He is a painter of everything from an oil painting to a glass finish paint job on an old hot rod. And most of all, he is my hero.
About two years ago he found out he only had 4 months to live. He went in for surgery to have a tumor the size of a lemon removed from his neck (no he has never been a smoker). Shortly after he had 5 weeks of harsh radiation. The last week put him into the ER. He never finished the last week of radiation because he knew would kill him. The doctors kept calling him, trying to get him to finish the last week of radiation just so they could collect their final bill from insurance. This drove him to be angry and disheartened with the way his cancer was treated.
After that he continued to get angry, feel hopeless, and unmotivated. See, he is the kind of man who can not get better in a hospital bed. He must be home, surrounded by his family, and of course, his garage. Even if he only has the energy to put one bolt on his bike, he feels some kind of accomplishment. Day by day feeling was his reason to keep fighting to get stronger. THAT is his therapy.
So I asked him one day while piddling around in our garage. "What do you think about building another custom bike?" He perked up and asked what kind. I said, "Any bike. One that we can build together. We will raffle it off and donate all proceeds to whatever organization you want." He didn't even hesitate. We went straight into talking about what bike we will use and what it will look like.
Throughout the process, we learned so much about building the best custom cafe racer. We even learned how similar it is to fighting cancer. Everyday is a struggle. Some days are better than others. One second you are scratching your head trying to figure out what comes next, and the next second you are as thrilled as can be because you have accomplished the next step.
After about a year and a half, we finally completed the bike. We also found the perfect organization to donate the $16,500 that we raised during the build. My Dad chose to donate every penny to St. Jude's Children's Cancer Research Hospital because we learned that not a single family pays a bill. The hospitals main focus is to be a true research facility that finds alternative cures for cancer.
We also picked a winner! A very amazing man who drove all the way from New York to meet us at the Barber Motorsports Vintage Bike Festival. There we got to go over the whole bike and spend a little time getting to know each other!
While in Barber, we entered the bike in the Ace Corner Contest and wound up winning "Best in Class" and "Judges Choice"!!! We also had the privilege of getting in one last photo shoot with the Iron & Air guys, which will be shown in their last issue for 2014!
I have to be honest now. I did not want to build this bike for a donation, not for magazine articles, or even for myself. My only goal when starting this was to help my dad focus on something positive, something that made him want to wake up in the morning, to motivate him and bring him back to life. I have to say that it worked and we came up with a pretty badass little bike :)
Not only did this project bring us closer together, but it made our family bigger. We met some of the most amazing, selfless people we could have ever encountered. We found a brother in Junior Burrell and his incredible talent in metal shaping, and a best friend and true artist in Brandon LaJoie with his Photography, capturing every good and bad moment my dad and I had through his camera. The list of people goes on and that is the best gift for my Dad. A two wheeled family that he now knows will do anything it takes to be there for him.
To my Papa,
I love you :)
***For Bike Build Details, Click on the photo below!***