The Fallen Brother Project

The 2010 “Fallen Brother Run” was held on Saturday, February 27th in Rossville, Texas. The run is hosted by the Gypsy MC River City chapter and came about through the combined vision of Lifer Patchless and River City members Bounce! and Popeye. The run was originally called the “Splinter Memorial Run” held in memory of River City member Jason “Splinter” Villanueva who was killed with his girlfriend in a tragic motorcycle accident in 2002. The run is typically held on the last weekend in February to remember Splinter’s birthday on February 22nd. The run was renamed Fallen Brother when Retired Lifer and River City member Charlie “Little Charlie” Settles died in 2005. The realization that, as a club, we lose as many as a dozen members each year has really driven home the fact the we need an organized approach to supporting both members and non-members that need, and deserve, our help. The Fallen Brother project has done just that for the last five years.
The annual run, which began in 2006 is the primary way that the Fallen Brother Project funds the donations made throughout the year. The Houston Chapter has been a continual supporter of Fallen Brother and I guess that I’m writing this to encourage other Gypsy MC chapters to consider supporting the project through annual or monthly contributions in the form of a “pledge”. The project has proven itself a viable means of distributing resources within our Gypsy MC family; there are many examples of assistance to those that can definitely use our help.

The Fallen Brother Project is not supported by Gypsy MC International but is managed through a committee comprised of members from each Gypsy MC area. Each committee member was selected based on their ability and interest in actively supporting the project. The respective Area Vice President has approved the committee member who serves the Fallen Brother Project in their area. Individual requests for assistance are first made to a Gypsy Chapter President. The President then contacts the Area Representative and the rep contacts Bounce! who takes the request to the committee. A vote is taken and funds are sent to the person in need.

The Fallen Brother Run follows the typical Gypsy MC run format: weekend camping is available as is food, a poker run, field events, music and an auction to raise money for the treasury. Gordi, in memory of Splinter, always cooks the barbeque and donates ALL his proceeds to the run. Typically the registration is above two-hundred. Bounce! tells me that this year’s success will result in Fallen Brother managers to considering another venue. It seems that the run may be outgrowing the current site in Rossville.

There are a lot of good examples of how Fallen Brother funds have been used to help deserving Gypsy members. The first example was a retired Lifer who had lost her job and had fallen on hard times. To make matters worse, she fell and broke bones that required time to heal and a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. She was out of a job and was finding it difficult to make ends meet. In addition to the assistance that she received from individuals, chapters and International, Fallen Brother resources were used to help this sister keep it all together during a very difficult time.

Another good example of Fallen Brother resources put to good use is the support provided to help a member generate funds during her second round of cancer treatment. In this example the Fallen Brother assisted with developing and producing a recipe book. Bounce!, working in conjunction with the Fallen Brother Project arranged for donated cover material and paper for the recipe book and the Fallen Brother paid for the printing. The book sold out almost as quickly as it hit the market. I had contributed an article and a recipe that were included but I wasn’t quick enough to get a copy of the final product. Maybe Fallen Brother will reprint the book and offer it at their run in the future.

The Fallen Brother Project isn’t just about fund raisers and donations. There’s a lot of expertise within the committee that can be used to solve problems that seem to always come up. Dealing with hospital bills, Medicare and Medicaid as well as various other public assistance programs can be confusing. The Fallen Brother committee members have a great deal of experience in dealing with these issues and have been very helpful to members in the past.

Most recently, the Fallen Brother has obtained the same insurance coverage as TMRA. Any person registered at the Fallen Brother Run is eligible for an Accidental Death and Dismemberment Policy – free as a supporter of the run. Another nice touch are the Fallen Brother Run trophies. Mugs, designed to honor members who have passed the previous year are given as trophies for the field events. In addition to these mugs, two additional mugs were made this year. These mugs recognized Roundman and Handy Andy, both members of the Calallen Gypsy MC chapter.

I could go on but I think you’ve got the point by now. The Fallen Brother Project and the run that’s put on each year are a good thing. The selfless efforts of a very committed group of Gypsys continue to result in help for our own. But the Fallen Brother can always use additional help. I’d like to see additional Gypsy MC chapters support the project with donations or pledges. Members and Area Red Rockers, talk with your Chapter President about additional support for the Fallen Brother Project. With just a little support from a lot more chapters and members, resources can be increased to help so many more people.