CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It was a police escort fit for a President. The motorcade made up of more than one hundred motorcycles and police vehicles passed through several counties Friday to give four students battling cancer a ride back to school.
Members of the Hometown Heroes of Union County gathered at Hendricks Cadillac in Monroe to kick off the 12th year of their philanthropic bike ride.
The non-profit organization was founded in 1998 by retired police sergeant Donnie Dixon. The group offers financial and medical assistance to families of children with serious or terminal illnesses.
"When you have these cancers, you sometimes miss school. So we have two kids we are going to take to school to let them know I am back, and I have a lot more friends now than when I left," said Dixon.
19 children were also on hand to take part in the kick-off ceremony. It included a butterfly and balloon release, and families receiving a $1,000 check from the organization, to help offset the cost of care.
The children also got a chance to ride-along in the police squad cars, and blasted sirens as they made their way to several schools.
The first stop was to Hickory Grove Elementary School.
Children were waving their arms with balloons and signs in hand as the motorcade arrived.
They welcomed Kindergartner Zoe Wylie, who is going to school after undergoing treatments for Leukemia.
""I'm speechless, that was amazing. I started crying in the car," said her mother, Amber.
"There were way more students than we expected. It's just so wonderful to know she has got so much support here at school, it makes me feel better she's leaving her bubble at home. I'm glad she is better enough to come to school," said Wylie.
Zoe mother is certain this kind of encouragement will help Zoe in her fight.
"To see these kids who don't even know Zoe cheering for her wanting to give her things, and give her high fives, it's heartwarming," she said.
Zoe bounced back from her hospitalization stay as of last week. She finishes her chemotherapy in March and should be in full remission thereafter.
The motorcade will also make a stop in Concord, Shelby and Asheville. The group has a number of family-fun activities, and after riding to the mountains will head to the Carolina Coast.