Something rare and special occurred in Rockingham last weekend.
Perhaps you heard the rumble and wondered what all the fuss was about. Maybe you witnessed the rattle and hum of the black and chrome procession as it filled the streets, and snaked through the countryside.
More than 100 bikers from all over the region assembled for a benefit ride in honor of a boy who perished in a fire inside his East Rockingham home two weeks ago.
The ride on Sunday, Nov. 25, was in tribute to 13-year-old Garon Wayne Benson and his family.
Garon was killed in the fire at 268 2nd St. Safie, East Rockingham, on Nov. 18. Garon’s mother, Mandy Carpenter, and step-father, David Carpenter, were able to escape the blaze, however, the woman was seriously burned and hospitalized.
The death of a child seems to have its own special weight — a deeper sorrow for the loss of possibilities, beyond losing the joy and companionship of the child.
That is the sorrowful vacuum left in the wake of this boy’s abrupt and cruel passing.
The death of Garon has weighed heavily on neighbors, friends, classmates and family alike since that horrible Sunday.
The firemen who fought the blaze are touched as well. “All the firemen are keeping the family in our thoughts and prayers — Garon will not be forgotten,” said Fire Chief Mitchell Watson, of the East Rockingham Fire Department.
The home was gutted and the family lost everything in the fire.
The Nov. 25 benefit ride was impressive in how it came together so fast, and news spread mainly by word of mouth.
Motorcycle riders from several different clubs came together for the ride, including the Wingmen of Rockingham, Playaz Elite of Rockingham, A Few Good Brothers to the End of Wadesboro, Dragon Riders of Mt. Gilead, and the Ghost Riders participated in the event.
Of the assembled bikers, about 87 rode to the charred ruins of the Carpenter home. In a solemn and spontaneous gesture, the assembled — including neighbors who walked up to take part — took each other’s hands or draped outstretched arms onto the stranger standing next to them. This ensemble of leather and denim and bandannas lowered their heads as a few individuals broke away from the pack to walk up to the steps of the house and deliver prayers.
The benefit ride was followed by a $5 plate sale and auction in Rockingham, where a variety of items were sold. Neighbors and friends of the family, Megan Pierson and Tammy Leviner, sold colored pins made by Pierson for $2 each. The black and purple pins were in recognition of Garon’s favorite football team, the Baltimore Ravens, while the blue and yellow pins represented Rohanen Middle School.
Nearly $4,000 was raised by the event, which was presented to David Carpenter later that night.
From different walks of life, and different interests, strangers came together in tribute to a life taken far too soon.
It seems tragedy brings out the best in us. We stand as one when it counts. It is comforting to know that when we fall, someone will have our back.