The Cycle Gear shop has events every month for its tight-knit rider community. The September event had another function: To fundraise for Jeremy James. Photo by: Jade Crooks
A Midlands bike shop is helping to raise money for a paralyzed motorcycle rider.
Cycle Gear on St. Andrews Road held a fundraiser Tuesday for Jeremy James, a 22-year-old motorcycle stunt rider, said store manager Travis Copeland.
Will Branham, a friend of James, said people still may donate to James through the shop through Sept. 24.
The fundraiser was incorporated into a regular event the “extremely community-oriented” franchise holds the second Tuesday of each month for local motorcycle enthusiasts.
James was severely injured Aug. 27 while riding his motorcycle on Woodruff Road in Greer, in the Upstate. His neck was broken in two places, and he is now paralyzed, Branham said. Nearly a month later, James is receiving physical and occupational therapy in the hospital.
Cycle Gear held the fundraiser “just like any community would to uplift someone who has been through tragedy,” Copeland said.
“Motorcycling is one of those things where it’s more of a tight-knit community,” Copeland said. “When anybody has this happen to them, it’s kind of on our shoulders.”
The shop awarded 10 raffle tickets to win gear to anyone at the event who put money in the donation jar for James. Cycle Gear raised $160 at the event itself.
“Everybody’s really good about trying to help their fellow rider, because we all have stories like that,” the shop’s assistant manager Christina Cherry said. “Everyone we know has been hit or had close calls. So we always try to help each other out as much as we can.”
Branham also helped organize the fundraiser through the store. He said he’s raising money for James because he knows what James is going through.
“I was hit by a drunk driver eight or nine years ago,” Branham said. “When I got out of the hospital, I had nothing. So I’m trying to build kind of a cushion for him so that he’s not going to have to ask anybody for anything as much.”
James has a long road to recovery ahead of him, Branham said. James is expected to be in the hospital for at least another month while he tries to regain feeling and movement throughout his body. James said in a recent interview he has feeling in his legs and can move one arm.
“Twenty miles an hour is all it takes to put you in the condition that he’s in,” Branham said. “He had a split-second decision. Then the worst happened. But it wasn’t the worst-case scenario. He’s still alive. It was the best-worst case.”
James said the accident happened during a group ride after he got separated from his fellow riders.
“The truck in front of me had the green light, and I thought it was about to go through the light,” James said. “I looked behind me to make sure that the car behind me wouldn’t hit me, and when I turned around, the truck never went through the light. So I hit the back of the truck.”
Since James rear-ended the truck in front of him, he was charged by police and found at fault for the accident. All charges later were dismissed, though, James said.
James doesn’t know what caused the driver in front of him to not go through the light. But he said he has a message for all drivers on the road after his life “changed in a flash.”
Be careful, he said.
“Cars have seatbelts and airbags,” he said. “And, on motorcycles, we don’t have any of that. Please, you know, look twice and save a life.”
Front and center at Cycle Gear bike shop on St. Andrews Road sits a donation jar for the paralyzed motorcycle rider Jeremy James. Photo by: Jade Crooks.
Jeremy James, right, with one of his friends before the accident. Photo courtesy of Will Branham.
Every 20 minutes, the fundraiser’s DJ encouraged people over the loudspeaker to donate to Jeremy James. Photo by: Jade Crooks