Spirit of Alabama: Motorcycle club supports baby in need


Premature babies often require extensive care even after they get home from the hospital. Baby Gabriel Rickman is no exception, but he’s got some unique friends helping out that his family will never forget.

When Gabriel was born, he weighed 3 pounds, 9 ounces, required heart surgery and was in the hospital for three months straight.

“I’m scared,” said mother Morgan Johnson. “Who knows what tomorrow may hold because one minute he may be fine and the next he could be going downhill. And sometimes his oxygen is low and we have a machine to keep that. And other times it’s perfectly fine.”

Dad Jacob Rickman said Gabriel is absolutely perfect, and every new baby brings its own challenges.

“I am a very happy dad,” Rickman said. “I was already doing a lot of different things with my life, changing some stuff around, when he came around that settled it in for me, what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.”

Because of Gabriel’s needs and lengthy hospital stay, Johnson and Rickman wound up struggling with finances.

But that’s where the 21 Brotherhood Public Service Motorcycle Club comes in. On Aug. 20, they’re hosting a fundraising ride for the family’s benefit.

Club President Tyler Hodge said the idea of helping out came easy.

“A mutual friend of ours reached out and was telling me about their story,” Hodge said. “I reached out to the family and asked what I could do to help because I’ve been in a similar situation and I know that it’s not an easy task to go at it alone.”

The ride on Aug. 20 begins at Tuscaloosa’s Harley Davidson and will end at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6022 in Cottondale.

Entry is $25 for bikers and $5 for passengers. All proceeds go to Gabriel’s family. Rickman said it’s just the latest in many miracles Gabriel’s managed.

“That took me off guard,” he said. “I was literally speechless. The further into it he got, calling me and telling me all the things he was doing, I couldn’t come up with the words. I just felt humbled, blessed if you will.”

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