Charity motorcycle ride benefits Hampstead girl

For the family of Hampstead 7-year-old Carmen Chanaud, Saturday's third annual Mitchell Ride was even more than they anticipated.

The Mitchell Ride, organized by the Finksburg-based Unchained Few motorcycle club, raises money for children with disabilities. The ride covers 85 miles through Carroll and Howard counties, with more than 100 riders participating.

After the ride, participants and others meet at the Sykesville American Legion Post 223 for the after-party, featuring food, music, and raffles.

"Carmen had a ball, she was like a superstar" Carmen's father, Norman Chanaud, said of Saturday's event.

Chanaud said the family was connected with Unchained Few through Carmen's occupational therapist at Ebb Valley Elementary School in Manchester. She knew a member of the group and suggested Carmen benefit from the ride.

Carmen, described by her father as determined with a great sense of humor and always smiling, has cerebral palsy after being born three months prematurely. She has limited use of her right arm and leg and needs a motorized scooter to get around.

She struggles to be independent, getting support from her family, friend and teachers.

Chanaud said he and his three sons are her "legs to move around the house."

"Anything that a 7-year-old can do, she would have difficulty doing," Chanaud said.

The contribution from Unchained Few will help change that.

Unchained Few has purchased and installed a lift for the back of the family vehicle to transport Carmen's motorized scooter, an adapted tricycle, a bath and shower chair, and an adapted swing set for Carmen.

Chanaud said the chairlift givers his daughter more independence, and that it allows the family to go anywhere with Carmen.

"It gives her great confidence," he said.

The items combined cost about $8,500, according to Marc Salerno, president of Unchained Few.

He said the ride and after-party raised enough money to cover the costs of the items and then some.

Chanaud said his family had a great time and his three sons want to be involved with helping in the ride next year.

Salerno, president of Unchained Few, said the event has grown each year in terms of the number of riders and money raised.

"This is most definitely the largest yet," he said, referring to the turnout.

There were 93 motorcycles on the ride, with 125 riders and about 250 people at the after- party, he said.

Salerno said he believes it has been successful because it's a joint effort among people who want to help children.

"When you do these events, it helps you more than it helps the kids, I think," he said. "It's a great feeling when you get to help these children out."

Unchained Few was formed after a number of riders participating in another motorcycle group believed they could be doing more charity work, Salerno said.

The Mitchell Ride is named in honor of Mitchell Sylvain, a Virginia teenager. Sylvan was the primary beneficiary of the first ride in 2011 when money was raised for his family to install an elevator in their home.

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