December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Celtic Sisters Motorcycle Club enjoys riding, raising money for neuroblastoma research

From left, Bonnie Napier, Christine Jones, Lisa Thuning and Teresa Cole, organizers of the Celtic Sisters Women's Motorcycle Club, at Quaker Steak & Lube in Sheffield on Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

From left, Bonnie Napier, Christine Jones, Lisa Thuning and Teresa Cole, organizers of the Celtic Sisters Women’s Motorcycle Club, at Quaker Steak & Lube in Sheffield on Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Being a biker isn’t reserved for a tough-looking guy sporting a gnarly beard and wearing leather. Several Lorain County women are aiming to prove it.

The Celtic Sisters Motorcycle Club was formed by friends Lisa Thuning and Teresa Cole, with the intention of finding other women who enjoy riding. They were quickly joined by Christine “Criket” Jones and Bonnie Napier.

Thuning, 46, of Oberlin, said although the club was formed to find like-minded female riders wanting to hit the road for enjoyment, they also hope to serve a bigger cause by raising money for neuroblastoma research and support for those plagued with it. Neuroblastoma is a cancerous tumor that develops in nerve tissue and typically affects infants and children.

“There’s a lot of good lady riders in this county who want to take on charity work and enjoy riding with other women,” Thuning said.

Neuroblastoma hits close to home for Cole, 50, of Elyria. Her granddaughter, Sahara, ultimately lost the battle to the disease at age 4 in 2012 on Cole’s birthday.

Cole said Sahara was diagnosed with the disease at 2 and given only a few weeks to live, but treatment kept her going for two years. Although the ordeal was horrible to witness, Cole said she saw charities help Sahara while she was in the hospital, volunteers trying to ensure her granddaughter was as comfortable as possible.

Cole hopes Celtic Sisters Motorcycle Club members will give back to children who are struggling the same way her granddaughter did.

“Our main goal is to bring some cherished memories to these kids,” Cole said. “No matter how long they have, you’ve got to bring some smiles to their faces. We were blessed to have Sahara in our lives for four years, and hopefully others will get that chance.”

Jones, 50, of Vermilion, also knows how much cancer can affect a family. She lost two sons, Merle, 9, and David, 23, to cancer.

“When you’re up in those hospitals, you just see children and people suffering and you want to do whatever you can do to make it somewhat easier,” Jones said. “It’s never easier, but we’ll do what we can.”

Napier, 49, of Lorain, said she readily jumped on board when she heard about the club. She too knows how a parent struggles when a child is sick after watching her grandson undergo open heart surgery and seeing his parents’ anguish.

“These girls came along and we started talking, and I think they have a good cause,” Napier said. “My grandson had open heart surgery, and even though it’s not the same thing, it boils down to being about helping kids and those parent who need that support.”

All four women said riding also is a time to forget the troubles that life so often presents, if even for a short while.

“You’re out there on the road, and you get to see a lot of beautiful things,” Cole said. “It’s all about the sisterhood. It takes your mind off of things, and you’re like a bird that is free.”

Jones echoed her friend’s sentiments, saying hopping on a motorcycle is a form of letting go.

“It’s like meditating,” Jones said. “You’re out in the open, nothing’s in sight, and you feel free. No problems, no worries, nothing.”

To learn more about the Celtic Sisters Motorcycle Club, call Thuning at (440) 223-9217 or visit celticsisterswmc.com.

Contact Jon Wysochanski at 329-7123 or jwysochanski@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonWysochanski.