Rio's Rainbow Ride draws a large crowd of bikers to raise awareness
ELKHART, Ind. --- Hundreds of bikers gathered in Elkhart on Saturday to ride for a cause. The new tradition, Rio's Rainbow Ride, brought together the biker community with family and friends of Rio Allred to shed light on an issue that faces schools, bullying.
“It’s well known in the biker community, if you ask bikers to gather for a cause, we’re there," says the organizer of Rio's Rainbow Ride, Tyler Cramer. "I mean, especially something like children. They can’t stick up for themselves, we’re going to do it for them.”
Rio took her own life back in March at the age of twelve. She was diagnosed with alopecia, and experienced severe bullying because of it. Her story is what inspires the Elkhart community of bikers to help in the fight against bullying, and show support to Rio's family.
“We know that Rio’s not the only one that’s been bullied and we want to make sure that every child’s voice is heard," Cramer says.
“There’s so much love shown for us, shown for Rio, and so much concern for the issues of bullying, and mental health, and alopecia, and all of that," says Rio's father, Michael Allred.
Rio's parents say that besides covering her ears to the loud noise of motorcycles, she would have loved Saturday's ride. She had plans to start riding with her dad this summer.
“She’d even said she was going to try riding this summer," says Rio's stepmother, Kasandra Jackson.
"This is supposed to be her first year that she was going to ride with me, because I’ve been riding for a while," says Allred. "She started to come around; at first it was scary, it was loud, and all that. As the years have gone on, she warmed up to it a lot more and she said ‘this year I think I want to ride with you.’”
The money raised at Saturday's ride will go directly towards Rio's Rainbow, a charity dedicated to providing resources on how to address bullying, and raising awareness of its severity in schools. With Rio's story being shared nationwide and helping to advocate for a change, her family along with the community is proud of what she's been able to help accomplish since she passed.
“There’s more stories all the time," says Rio's stepfather, Aaron Ball. "It’s not just an Elkhart problem, it’s a worldwide problem. So we’ll start here and see where else we can help going forward.”
“I knew that baby was going to do big things, and she is," Nicole Ball, Rio's mother says.
To learn more about Rio's story and how Rio's Rainbow plans to put a stop to bullying, visit the Rio's Rainbow website.