GREENSBURG — With nicknames like Dozer, Smoke, Ratchet, Spanky, Gator, Bean, Full Draw and Iron Head, one might not expect members of local motorcycle club “New Breed” to be activist or charitable types.
Don’t tell that to the family of the late Brandon Hempstead, who graduated from Greensburg Community High School in June, but died Sept. 5 from a previously undetected congenital heart condition. For the Hempsteads, in fact, the members of New Breed, are angels.
Brandon’s sudden passing left his grieving mother, Treasa Hempstead, with an unexpected deluge of bills. The family’s financial woes were so severe, in fact, that Brandon was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery without a tombstone.
Enter New Breed. One of the member’s wives in the group – Summer Maple – works with Hempstead at Aramark.
“I’ve known Treasa since I was a kid,” Summer Maple said.
Summer’s husband, Wayne Maple – aka “Smoke” – said that everyone in the club agreed that helping Treasa was New Breed’s duty.
New Breed Member Bobby Palmer – aka “Dozer” – revealed that, from the beginning, the group’s primary mission has been “helping people in need, mostly children.”
This past Saturday, in Brandon’s honor, members of New Breed, along with members and friends of the Hempstead family, embarked on a 100-mile benefit ride from Wallpe’s Keg in Greensburg. The ride itself was organized by family friend Jesse Moody, and passed through Napoleon, Versailles and North Vernon, before ending at the Decatur County Conservation Club. The event continued at the Conservation Club with a 50/50 drawing, a cornhole tournament, dinner, drinks, live music and an auction, lasting well into the evening.
Treasa Hempstead told the Daily News the event raised $1,100, not counting the $520 New Breed paid to purchase a headstone; the money to pay for the monument came from the group’s general fund, Palmer explained, which is funded through the various fundraisers the group has held throughout 2013. Hempstead didn’t know about New Breed’s contribution and on Saturday, when the group presented her with a certificate for a headstone, she was caught completely unaware.
The New Breed donation will completely cover the purchase of Brandon Hempstead’s headstone. Asked how much New Breed’s contribution meant to her and her family, Treasa Hempstead replied, “It means a lot. It’s shocking to me that people would pull together and do something like that. A lot of those guys [in New Breed] don’t even know who I am or who Brandon was. Yet they pulled together and gave me something by which I can always remember my son and them. I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough for what they’ve done. God bless each and every one of them.”
Indeed, in an interview at the Daily News Monday night, Palmer, Maple and fellow New Breed Member Nate “Ratchet” Bowling, confirmed that most of the members of New Breed had never met Treasa or Brandon.
According to Palmer, however, all of New Breed’s membership agrees that Wayne and Summer Maple’s friendship with the Hempstead family is sufficient reason for New Breed to consider the Hempsteads family.
“We’re a family club,” Palmer said. “We all have kids of our own. And we hope that, if something happened to one of us or our kids, someone would step up and help just like we’re trying to do here.”
Wayne and Summer Maple describe Brandon Hempstead as a good, hardworking kid, who was very close to his younger sister Allison. Brandon, they said, was working to save money so Allison could attend college.
“He wanted to open a college fund,” Treasa Hempstead confirmed, “but he never got it started.”
The family still owes $2,500 for Brandon’s funeral expenses, Treasa added, and wants to organize additional fundraisers for sometime in the spring of 2014 – maybe a softball tournament, probably another motorcycle ride.
If there’s any money left over after from the additional fundraisers, Treasa said, the family intends to start a college fund for Allison as a way to achieve Brandon’s goal of sending her to college. It’s likely the members of New Breed will be around to help with any additional fundraisers.
In the meantime, the group will continue its philanthropic mission. They recently raised enough to be classified as a 501c3 non-profit organization.
“We were already classified as a non-profit,” Wayne Maple pointed out.
The group will use the new designation to start collecting for “Santa’s Cause for Christmas,” which they hope to launch during the 2014 holiday season. Through Santa’s Cause for Christmas, New Breed will distribute toys to Decatur and Shelby County kids who otherwise might get nothing for Christmas. The group will spend the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014 raising money for the endeavor, with a goal of collecting at least $15,000.
Treasa Hempstead has also opened the “Gift of Grace” account in Brandon’s name at MainSource Bank to help cover additional expenses related to the funeral. For more information, call MainSource at 662-2700.
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011