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Prince George
County, VA

Bikers roll dice to raise money for a local tech center

Bikers roll dice to raise money for a local tech center

CHESTER - While the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally “legend lived on” in the Black Hills of South Dakota, over 150 participants mostly riding bikes traveled through Chester, Hopewell, Prince George, and Carson rolling dice to raise money for a local tech center. 

The second annual “Ride for Sierra” dice run took place on Saturday, Aug. 8 to keep Sierra-Lynn Barbara Wise’s memory alive.

The late Sierra-Lynn Barbara Wise poses for a photo prior to the Prince George High School Senior Prom in May of 2014.

Sierra was an upcoming mechanic attending Rowanty Technical Center in Prince George County when she was in an unfortunate car accident which led to her death on June 6, 2015.

Instead of watching their eighteen-year-old daughter graduate from Prince George High School, Sierra’s parents Gerald and Barb Thomas were dealt with a nightmare.

Approximately two hours before Sierra would have received her diploma, her vehicle traveling north on Loving Union Road struck a tree when it ran off the roadway to the left.

The crash that took place at the intersection of Loving Union Road and Pumphouse Road in Disputanta killed Sierra.

“We have no idea what actually happened other than it was reported by a passerby,” shared Sierra’s mother Barb Thomas of Disputanta.

According to Rowanty Technical Center Principal Cheryl Simmers, Sierra already had two job offers as an auto technician.

"Ride for Sierra" players roll dice at the Rowanty Technical Center on August 8, 2020.

“Sierra received multiple ASE [Automotive Service Excellence] student certifications. She was highly qualified and ready to be a fully functioning automotive tech when she left here,” said Simmers. “She was a bright spot in our Automotive Technology program.”

In honor of Sierra and her persistence to complete the two-year program, all the proceeds from the dice run were donated to the Rowanty Technical Center to benefit the Automotive Technology program

From left to right, Sierra’s sisters Emma, Michaela [15], and Regena [16], dad Gerald, and mom Barb Thomas of Disputanta pose for a photo at the second annual “Ride for Sierra” dice run final stop at River’s Bend Grill in Chester on August 8, 2020. Regena founded the event to keep Sierra-Lynn Barbara Wise’s memory alive.

Who founded the “Ride for Sierra” dice run?

Sierra’s sixteen-year-old sister Regena Thomas created the dice run last year as a school project at Prince George High School.

“I’m in the International Baccalaureate [IB] gifted program which aims to improve students’ critical thinking and better their education,” said Regena. “The last year of IB there is a requirement to complete a personal project that is supposed to be about something that matters to you.”

The proceeds from the first annual “Ride for Sierra” were donated to the JROTC program at Prince George High School.

Motorcycles, cars, and trucks started and finished at River’s Bend Grill in Chester. The dice-rolling stops in between included Colonial Harley-Davidson in Prince George, Rowanty Technical Center in Carson, and VFW Post 637 in Hopewell.

"Ride for Sierra" dice run American Legion riders turn in their scorecards to volunteer "Bling" on the final stop at River's Bend Grill in Chester on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020.

??“We all came out for the dice run to support the family,” said Katie Lacy of American Legion Post 2 of Petersburg.

Regina reached out to combat veterans to assist with her initiative.

“‘Ride for Sierra’ started with a small group of combat veterans. Sierra’s parents belong to our group,” said Rachel ‘Rae’ Brendel of Post 637 of VFW Riders in Hopewell. “Everyone has been inviting everyone, and it’s grown to 10 or more groups throughout the region.

“This is our extended family,” added Brendel. “So, of course, we’re going to support the ‘Ride for Sierra’ dice run.”

“It’s an overwhelming feeling watching all the bikes roll in to support our cause,” said Thomas.

On the left, Mabelle Green of American Legion Post 146 in Hopewell and Katie Lacy of American Legion Post 2 of Petersburg listen for door prize numbers being called after the “Ride for Sierra” dice run at the River’s Bend Grill in Chester on August 8, 2020.

??Players rolled five dice at each stop. At the end of the run, the highest score won $200, and the lowest score won $50.

Mike Koon had the highest score and Teddy Higgins, who is Sierra’s family’s neighbor, had the lowest; both players donated their winnings back.

A raffle with numerous prizes as well as a 50/50 drawing took place also. The winner of the 50/50 “Alpha” donated $120 back.

"Alpha" turns in his winning "Ride for Sierra" 50/50 ticket on the final stop of the dice run at River’s Bend Grill in Chester on August 8, 2020. "Alpha" donated $120 back to benefit the Rowanty Technical Center's Automotive Technology program.

A limited number of T-shirts designed by Regena with the logo “She believed she could, so she did” were sold to help support the “Ride for Sierra” also. 

“In the morning, before Sierra was to graduate, I posted ‘She believed she could, so she did’ on her Facebook,” said Barb. “She worked so hard to become a mechanic, and she accomplished what she set out to do.”

Family members of the late Sierra-Lynn Barbara Wise help with the raffle that took place at the final stop on the “Ride for Sierra” dice run at River’s Bend Grill in Chester on August 8, 2020.

The tee design also included a dreamcatcher with a pawprint placed in the center.

“Sierra loved animals,” said Barb. “Sierra’s dad [Gerald Thomas], her sister [Emma Thomas], and I all got matching tattoos right after Sierra died. The three of us went to a tattoo artist and explained what we were looking for and he came up with the design that Regena included on the t-shirt.”

According to Sierra's mom, an unidentified "Ride for Sierra" dice run player made a cash donation on the final stop at River's Bend Grill saying, "My daughter graduated from Prince George High School on the same day as Sierra-Lynn's accident."

“Our goal was to raise $3,000,” said Sierra’s mother. “We ended up raising over $4,500.”

Regena has already begun planning the third annual “Ride for Sierra” dice run.

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