Harley owners to honor friend with MDA ride

When Steve Rabideaux was asked to describe Charles Harrison, the deceased Harley Davidson of Clayton County owner, he came up with the words "good people."

Harrison and his wife, Coweta Harrison, opened his first motorcycle store, Charlie's Cycle Center, in 1968, in Hapeville. That store moved a couple of times, first to Lake City in the late 1970's, and eventually to Morrow in 2002. The name changed along the way, too, eventually evolving into Harley Davidson of Clayton County.

Rabideaux, the director of the Clayton County chapter of the Harley Owners Group (HOG), which meets at the local Harley store, said Harrison was always supportive of the group's activities. The owner attended all of its functions, and was willing to offer advice on what might work, and might not do so well, Rabideaux said.

Charles Harrison's daughter, Ava Harrison-Turner, said her father died from natural causes on July 1, 2009. Rabideaux said the Clayton County HOG chapter will host a charity poker run, through Clayton, Henry and Butts counties, in his honor, on Saturday. It will be a benefit for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), he said.

"He was just a personal friend to us," said Rabideaux. "Some members of our group had known him for over 30 years. When he died, the processional was so long ... Hundreds of riders followed the hearse."

The event will begin at the Harley Davidson of Clayton County store, which is located at 1384 Southlake Pkwy., in Morrow, with vendor booths set up at 9 a.m., for bikers, and non-bikers — and their families — to visit, according to Rabideaux. He said the vendors will be selling everything from jewelry, to leather, and there will be food sold at the event, and a DJ playing music.

Rabideaux said there will also be a bike show, featuring motorcycles in three classes — stock, custom and radical — going on throughout the day. A Fayetteville-based classic rock band, The Remedy, will begin playing at 8 p.m., and end when they run out of energy, he added.

"If there are a lot of people there, and the energy level is high, then they could go until, well, ‘question mark,'" Rabideaux said.

But, the main part of the event will be the poker run itself. Rabideaux said a poker run is an event in which riders make stops along a specific route, and they pick up a "poker card." Eventually, they will make five stops, including the starting and stopping points, which are the same place. By the time they finish, they will have a full poker hand, he said.

In this case, the starting and ending stops will be Harley Davidson of Clayton County. Other stops will be located in Locust Grove, Jackson, and McDonough, Rabideaux said. He added that there is a $20 entry fee for the ride. The rider who gets the best "hand" will win a more-than-$500 prize. The first riders to go on the run will leave the Harley Davidson store at 3 p.m., and the last will leave at 6 p.m., Rabideaux said.

He said 100 percent of the proceeds from the run will go to the MDA, in Charles Harrison's name.

Coweta Harrison, who still owns the Harley Davidson store, said MDA was one of her husband's favorite charities, and he was also a Shriner. MDA is a cause for which many Harley Davidson owners across the country raise money, according to Rabideaux.

The Clayton County HOG chapter director said the group annually holds an MDA fund-raiser, and its members decided to do it in honor of Charles Harrison this year, partly because of his own support for MDA, and partly to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his death.