NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The parking lot of the Uxbridge Veterans of Foreign Wars Post on Route 16 in Uxbridge had little room to maneuver Saturday morning. It was crowded with motorcycles and their riders signed on for the 9th annual Thunder in the Valley, a 100-mile ride through three states to raise money for the Adam Bullen Memorial Foundation, which helps cancer patients and their families.
Pat Bullen, who was there with her husband, children and grandchildren, said they consider their foundation a “small charity with a big heart.’’
Many charities raise money for cancer research. “We wish them well,’’ she said. But when her son Adam was diagnosed with cancer in January 2000, the family learned first-hand that a cancer diagnosis affects the entire family at emotional and financial levels.
When Adam died six months after the diagnosis, they formed the foundation to help families, any way they can, to cope. Sometimes that help is just a shoulder to cry on.
“Sometimes they just need us to talk to them," Bullen said. "It’s a calming feeling to talk to someone who has been through it. It lets them know they’re not alone in the fight.’’
Other times, they need financial help, and that is provided as well.
The foundation’s main fundraiser is a semi-formal dinner dance held the first Saturday in November. “Thunder in the Valley’’ is the next biggest source of funding.
The foundation is made up of all volunteers and many of them were in Uxbridge for the motorcycle run, participating, selling raffle tickets, or signing motorcyclists in.
People from as far away as California and Washington came to participate or help.
“A lot of the cancer patients we’ve helped are also here today,’’ Bullen said.
The route took motorcyclists to Connecticut, Rhode Island and back to Massachusetts for a chicken barbecue and entertainment at the VFW.