Brian Davis remembers the thrill of being introduced to motorcycles when he was only eight years old. Rit Varriale’s own recollection is very similar as he fondly recalls his father sitting him atop a motorcycle at the same young age.
“It’s a special bond my dad and I share,” Varriale says. “My dad and I ride together today. We participate together in different charity rides.”
Varriale, a former officer in the 82nd Airborne Division, is now pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby. Davis has served as pastor in churches including Beulah Baptist in Statesville and First Baptist in East Flat Rock. Today, he is Associate Executive Director-Treasurer for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
Much has changed since the two boys, fascinated by chrome and steel, have become adults. Their youthful passion for motorcycle riding, however, has not only carried over into adulthood, but is now a personal part of their ministries.
This May, their passion for motorcycling and ministry is being channeled into a brand new charity ride and evangelism effort benefiting Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) called the “Ride to Clyde.” Participating bikers will tour three of BCH’s statewide locations from Thursday, May 5 to Saturday, May 8. The ride concludes at Broyhill Home in Clyde and welcomes bikers riding all brands of motorcycles.
The vision for the ride grew out of a conversation Varriale had with Davis when the Elizabeth Baptist Church pastor served on BSC’s Board of Directors.
“I had been a part of a ride to benefit another children’s home,” Varriale recalls. “I asked Brian if this had ever been done for BCH and he said a ride of this scale had not. Brian really pushed it forward from there.”
While motorcycle benefit rides for BCH taking place within a day are not new, the idea to create a three-day ride involving multiple ministry locations has never been attempted.
“We want to bring riders together to generate awareness and funding for BCH, but we also want to encourage bikers who do not know Jesus to participate,” Davis explains. “Ride to Clyde brings things back to our goals as a Convention which is carrying out the Great Commission and making disciples.”
Davis says the the ride is also designed to be a witness to the children the bikers meet as they visit BCH locations.
“I know the boys and girls in BCH’s care hear that North Carolina Baptists love them and they see a slice of that when they visit and present the BCH ministry in our churches. The ride is an opportunity for them to see another side of North Carolina Baptists and the relationship we have with Christ.”
Riders will gather Wednesday evening, May 4, at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell and head west from there. Stops include BCH’s Cameron Boys Camp in Moore County on Thursday, Mills Home on Friday, and finally Broyhill Home in Clyde on Saturday, May 7 – the day of Broyhill Home’s Cookin’ for the Kids Barbecue Festival led by Ninevah Baptist Church in Waynesville.
The full itinerary for the ride, as well as registration and fund-raising information, may be found at www.bchnc.org/ridetoclyde. Riders may also contact BSC’s Cynthia King at 1-800-395-5102 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.