Bikers give Rockford man with dementia his wish for one last motorcycle ride

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James Ostrander, or Jim to those close to him, just wanted to feel the breeze one last time on a motorcycle.

He’s been riding since he was around 10 years old. Now at 72 and suffering from dementia, Heartland Hospice wanted to give Jim his last wish; to get back on the bike.
    
“Jim told me his one last wish was to sit on a motorcycle one last time and I thought ‘we could do one better than just sitting on a motorcycle,” said Kelly Bailey, a medical social worker for Heartland Hospice and Jim’s nurse for the last two weeks.

Kelly’s request for help went viral, receiving close to 1,000 shares on Facebook. Bikers from all over came to escort Jim on his final ride.

“I was able to locate somone one who had a side car which was really the only way my father would have been able to enjoy the ride,” said Melissa Kehoe, one of Jim’s two daughters.

“I met him for the first time today,” said Lyle Brubaker, who drove Jim around on his bike.

Brubaker was one of hundreds who answered the call for help.

“I had a friend give me a call and say that jim wanted to go for one more ride and I’m one of the few people around here with a side car and I said I’ll be happy to give him one good ride,” he said.

With a police escort and over 200 bikers, Jim got his final wish, just 2 years after his family sold his motorcycles because of his diagnosis.

“It was really a depressing point in his life when he had to let that go and sell the motorcycles when his health was declining, so this day was amazing and you could tell, as I was riding behind him, just with him waving, you could tell that he was happy inside, and that’s all that counts, so he could do it one last time,” said Kehoe.

He recalls his old motorcycles, “I had a ’87 a ’97. I had a ’97 that thing I rode on that thing. That was pretty hard to ride,” Jim said.

Jim’s thankful he had the chance for this one final ride, he says the ride on Saturday was “real good, real good.”

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