At 8 a.m. Sunday, 300 motorcyclists will rev their engines at the Mall in Columbia and roar down the highway to raise money for pediatric brain tumor research.
The 52-mile ride to Frederick is part of the national Ride-For-Kids, a 12-part fund-raiser sponsored by Honda of America that ends Oct. 24 in Vallejo, Calif.
"It's the kind of thing that makes us all feel good to be a part of it," said Mike Traynor, an Atlanta resident who started the national fund-raiser in 1984 after seeing a friend's child ravaged by the disease.
Sunday's event is expected to raise $50,000 in a trek from the mall down Interstate 70 and ending at the Frederick County Fairgrounds.
The money raised Sunday will help finance a Johns Hopkins University oncologist's research and the Central Brain Tumor Registry in Chicago.
The event also will give the bikers a chance to meet some of the children they are trying to help.
"This disease is so awfully nasty. . . . It devastates families," said Mr. Traynor, who said the Ride-For-Kids has raised $1.8 million for pediatric brain tumor research since it was begun.
Each year, nearly 20,000 children are diagnosed with incurable brain tumors nationwide, and 50 percent to 75 percent of them die, Mr. Traynor said.
One of those afflicted is Jennifer Lorenz, 2 1/2 , of Ellicott City, whose diagnosis came as a shock to her parents, Carol and William Lorenz.
"It's pretty much been an out-of-body experience," said Mrs. Lorenz. "You go through all this stuff . . . and you cannot believe it's you."
The parents first suspected something was wrong in April, when Jennifer, their only child, began to have problems walking, "almost like she had vertigo," her mother said.
Thinking the child had an ear infection, her parents took her to a pediatrician, who found nothing wrong and referred them to a neurologist. On April 20, a magnetic resonance imaging test ordered by the neurologist detected a brain tumor.
The girl's parents were stunned.
"She seemed so normal," Mrs. Lorenz said.
Jennifer has undergone chemotherapy at Johns Hopkins Hospital's Children's Unit and four operations to remove excess spinal fluid, which caused pressure on her brain and affected her coordination, speech and sight.
She has regained her sight and is talking again, Mrs. Lorenz said.
But the tumor is still there, despite a May attempt by Dr. Benjamin Carson, a renowned Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, to remove it. That procedure was foiled by excessive bleeding of the tumor, a rare situation, Mrs. Lorenz said.
"Maybe with money for future research, they can determine what causes the bleeding and can operate on Jennifer or other children like Jennifer," she said.
In the meantime, the family is holding fast to the hope that Jennifer will beat the odds for recovery from the deadly disease.
"She has a whole tumor; your chances are 50-50, a 50 percent success rate," Mrs. Lorenz said. "We're just banking on the 50 percent positive."