01 coverUAC0050218001Twenty-two years ago, Holly Whitley was only six months into operating her new Legends Pub on Bragg Boulevard when she hosted the first Spring Fling. She’d intended to host a casual fun run, but then, a friend was in a motorcycle accident that rendered him temporarily unable to work. She turned the Spring Fling into a benefit to help him and his wife cover their bills. Since then, the Spring Fling has stayed true to these roots and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support community members who are in immediate need. This year’s Spring Fling takes place May 4-6 at Legends Pub.

“We like to stay in our community,” Whitley said. “We’re not knocking large organizations or anything like that, but we really believe in taking care of our own community.”

The funds raised this year will benefit Lisa Horne, a member of The Steele Angels Riding Club. The Steele Angels are a local nonprofit group made up of women motorcyclists who support and conduct fundraising events to assist women and underprivileged children in need. Steele Angels founder and president Wendy Rogers said, “Lisa was in a terrible motorcycle accident on March 31, and as always, bikers come together and help each other. Bikers are, in my book, some of the most amazing people on this earth. They have hearts as big as the world.

“Lisa Horne has a love for the steel horses (motorcycles); she has a love for the furry horses as well. She has loved horses since she was 11 years old and loves to ride them as well. She has been a member of The Steele Angels for over 8 years and is also a member of some horse-riding clubs. She has served and is still active in the military; I call her our ‘Military Girl.’ She served in South Korea, Afghanistan and on other tours. She has four children and five grandchildren.”

The Steele Angels Riding Club has always had close ties with Whitley and Legends Pub, but this is the first time a Steele Angel has benefited from the Spring Fling.

“It’s kind of a blessing when we don’t have an individual to do Spring Fling for,” Whitley said. “That means one of our friends has not been hurt. One of us has not been put in distress. We like to take care of our own, but we don’t want to have to.”

Friday, May 4, kicks things off with a casual preparty at Legends. The doors open around 8 p.m. for pizza, drinks and the opportunity to participate in a pool tournament or raffle.

Saturday, May 5, is the Scott Sather Memorial Run, an unchanging element of the Spring Fling since 2003. Sather was a regular at Legends and a member of the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, an elite Air Force operations unit assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command at Pope Army Air Field. He was killed in Iraq on April 8, 2003, and is honored by a memorial in Freedom Memorial Park downtown.

The ride will leave from Legends around noon and stop at spots like Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson, The Rednecks Yacht Club and VFW 370 on Dock Bennett Road, returning by 4:30 p.m. That evening will feature food, live music from Motorjunkie starting at 6 p.m., raffles and a live auction. “People bring in donations for everything (to be auctioned),” Whitley said. “Helmets, motorcycle jackets, lots of baskets (coffee, tea, facials from a spa) ... it never fails that we have done well. We raised close to $15,000 in one event, and for one little bar on Bragg Boulevard, that’s pretty impressive. … People will also just write us checks and hand us money. They believe in the cause, they believe in what we’re doing.”

Sunday, May 6, ends the weekend with a bikeshow. Anyone is welcome to participate by lining their bike up in front of the bar. “A lady stands at each one of the bikes,” Whitley said. “It’s not about the bike; it’s about raising the money. You get a dollar a vote.” The bike that wins the most money takes best of show.

At the core of Whitley’s massive crew of friends, family and volunteers who make the Spring Fling possible are the Gypsy Women. It’s an ever-evolving group of women that’s been around since the 1980s, several years before Whitley opened Legends. Gypsy Women move away and return. As their daughters grow up, the Gypsy Women induct them into the group as well. One thing stays the same: they stick together and tangibly support each other through all life brings their way – deployment, divorce, illness and death as well as weddings, babies, promotions and new beginnings.

“We started out in our 30s and 40s and now we’re in our 50s and 60s, a lot of us,” Whitley said. “But we get a lot of respect as the younger people are coming up in their 20s and 30s. They’re just as involved with us, and it’s nice to see the different age groups of women work so well together. And being a Gypsy Woman is really just being able to give your heart out and help people – to support our causes that we choose together in conversation.

“We see someone in a situation where we know they would be there for us if we were in that situation. My kids grew up with these benefits, and I’ve watched them take care of their friends. It’s a generation thing. My bar has lots of parents, or even grandparents, that come in and drink with them.”

Over the last 22 years, the Spring Fling has enabled community members to pay for mammograms, cancer treatments, hospital bills and living expenses while going through difficult times. There have also been many years when there was not an individual who needed the Spring Fling’s funds. Those years, the event has benefited organizations like the Child Advocacy Center; Falcon Children’s Home; Hope Mills Sunshine Center Inc.; Fayetteville Hyperbarics, LLC; Fayetteville Animal ProtectionSociety; the NC Veterans Home; and the Kidsville News Literacy & Education Foundation, among many others.

Legends Pub also extends a special thank you to Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins and veteran motorcycle police officer Derick Boyd for their assistance in making this year’s event possible.

Legends Pub is located at 4624 Bragg Blvd # 1. Overflow parking will be available just past the bar on the right, in the parking lot of Ken’s Muffler and Auto Repair. Call Legends at 910-867-2364 for more information.

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