Miracle for Madeline
Event brings community together
by Clay Neely - Clay@Newnan.com
Hundreds of participants and attendees turned out at Crossroads Church in Sharpsburg Sunday for the “Miracle for Madeline” benefit event.
Numerous Coweta County area businesses, along with the Southies and Flood Brothers motorcycle groups, helped raise money for the family of Madeline McTier, who passed away this month following a long battle with brain cancer.
A benefit motorcycle ride kicked off the day’s festivities. Hundreds of participants in the motorcycle ride gathered at the nearby Coweta County Recreation Department Hunter Complex where “Preacher Mike” from the Open Range Cowboy Church delivered a heart-felt message to the participants prior to their send-off.
An estimated 300 bikers participated in the hour-long ride, which ended at Crossroads Church at 2 p.m. to enthusiastic cheers from onlookers.
Warren Whitten, along with the help of Sondra Veasey, helped organize not only the bike ride but also the event at Crossroads Church. Whitten is the spokesman for the Southies motorcycle group, while Veasey is the owner of the Twilight Bar & Grill in Newnan.
Whitten discovered Madeline’s story from a young woman named Olivia Evans, a local cheerleader who relayed the information to Whitten and the Southies. From there, they began organizing local business and individuals for the event.
“I did not realize it would be this big,” said Whitten. “It was something heartfelt for me because I made Madeline a promise that I’d do this for her and that I would do this as big as I could, and by God, it got done.”
“The Flood Brothers from Atlanta also helped tremendously, bringing down a film crew to document the entire event, even filming the ride with the assistance of a helicopter,” said Whitten.
“I just want to acknowledge and thank the Flood Brothers and all the local law enforcement for helping with traffic control,” said Whitten.
Mark Henry, another member of the Southies motorcycle group, commented on what a spectacular ride they enjoyed.
“You couldn’t ask for better riding weather,” said Henry. “There was nothing but cooperation from all those we encountered on the road during the ride,” adding that several motorcyclists they encountered along the way pulled over and removed their helmets in a symbol of respect.
When the bikers returned to the parking lot at Crossroads Church, it was filled with local vendors, horse rides, games, a silent auction and live music.
Local businesses set up tents across the Crossroads Church parking lot, helping to raise money for the McTier family, while other volunteers passed through the crowd with donation buckets.
Jerry Madsen of Newnan Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram was among the many vendors who were set up in the parking lot.
“While it’s unfortunate that it takes an event like this to bring the entire community together, it’s amazing as well,” he said. “It’s truly humbling to see how many people Madeline touched. I regret that I never had the chance to meet her.”
Also in attendance was Jerry Patrick of A.K.A. Junk, who brought his faithful “Mystery Machine” and “Batmobile” replicas to the event.
“I was asked to participate by the sheriff’s department,” said Patrick. “It’s truly an honor to have been invited and be here among such a supportive community.”
The scope of Madeline’s struggle was not limited to just a local story.
According to Whitten, it went from the local level all the way to an international phenomenon.
“We had requests for ‘Pray for Madeline’ shirts from Greece,” Whitten said.
According to Whitten, the greatest part of the event was the fact the community was able to showcase its character.
“Madeline brought a community together,” said Whitten. “Everyone was there for one reason; she touched them.”