Christmas is the season of giving — and nobody abides by that phrase better than local motorcycle clubs Iron Maidens and Rogue 22 MC.
For the past four years, husband-and-wife duo Jerry and Dawn Perales have combined their two motorcycle clubs, with members from both clubs donating presents to residents and staff at local nursing homes.
“The biggest reason why we do that is because a lot of people are left (in nursing homes) and never seen again by family members, so they enjoy hearing us pull up on bikes," said Jerry, who is the president of Rogue 22 MC. “It's very humbling to us to do that for somebody.”
The inspiration to start the gift-giving tradition came from Iron Maidens president and founder Dawn herself, whose grandmother resided in Harbor Lakes Nursing and Rehabilitation Center during the later stages of her life.
“My grandma was like, the glue that held our family together, and when she got into the nursing home, sometimes life just happens, and you can't get over there as much as you want,” Dawn said, in a previous interview to the HCN. “So, I decided I was gonna start at least once a year, going and seeing those elderly people and making them smile.”
This year, the Christmas-giving couple will kick off their fourth annual Nursing Home Run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec 16, giving gifts to the employees and residents of eight local nursing homes: Harbor Lakes Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Trinity Nursing & Rehabilitation of Granbury, Granbury Rehab & Nursing, Waterview the Cove Assisted Living & Memory Care, The Oaks of Granbury, Lakestone Terrace Senior Living, AVIVA Granbury, and Courtyards at Lake Granbury.
“We're both nonprofit organizations that just do things for people in need,” Jerry said. “We're not about money. We're more about putting time in to help people, and it makes you feel better about yourself and that's what we're about. At one point in time, some of us didn't have two nickels to scratch together, and now we've been blessed where we can do things like this, so it's a fun, humbling experience to see what you can do for somebody else.”
Last year, Jerry said he enjoyed speaking with a nursing home resident whose blue eyes matched those of a clown painting that she showed him.
“I was sitting here talking to her and she's all excited about it and I'm like, ‘That clown's eyes match your eyes. That's so brilliant,’ and you can just see the glow in her face. She was so happy about it,” he said.
The two motorcycle clubs sponsor and support each other in their many philanthropist efforts, like feeding the homeless, giving school supplies to children in need, and local motorcycle ride fundraisers.
“The Buddy Run, the 13-year-old boy passed away, we did a ride for him and raised over $8,000,” Jerry said. He added that they also held a Ride for Athena event last year, where they raised $9,000 for the family of 7-year-old Wise County girl Athena Strand, who was tragically killed last November.
Stephenville residents Melinda Jenkins and Diane Heffernan recently joined Iron Maidens because of the organization’s charitable focus.
“We just wanted to find (a motorcycle club) that actually did what they said, got into the community and made a difference — and that's (Dawn),” Heffernan said. “That's Iron Maidens.”
“They say they’re gonna do something, and then they do it,” Jenkins said. “They don’t just talk about it. The Iron Maidens actually come through with it, and it is a great sisterhood. The Iron Maidens take care of their own. With the support of Rogue with Jerry, it’s amazing to see two clubs get together to make something happen.”
Dawn told the HCN last year she enjoys seeing the smiles she brings to the nursing home residents every year and that she wouldn’t trade making those residents smile “for anything.”
“It wasn’t little smiles,” she said. “They were smiling from their hearts because somebody took the time to go up there and see them. My thing is, I love what I do, and I'll do it all day every day."
“Dawn's passion for this is extraordinary," Jenkins added. "She's the reason that we wanted to join because she is an amazing person."
The two motorcycle clubs are also currently looking for donations of puzzles, coloring books, Sudoku, board games, cards, dominos and blankets to give to the nursing homes.
“We’ll take anything that we can get,” Dawn said.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Nursing Home Run can contact the Iron Maidens Facebook page by searching “Iron Maidens Granbury.”
“Anybody who gets involved with us, this is what we do,” Jerry said, adding his thanks to Iron Soldierz MC and other organizations who stepped up to help. “We're just a humble organization that does things because we enjoy them, but the biggest thing is because we can. We don't have to, but we like to do whatever we can to make sure that nobody goes without.”
“It’s our passion, and we love to run for charities,” Jenkins added. “We’ll give beyond giving.”