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Local Harley rider sees charity she funds in a whole new light

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Posted at 9:23 PM, Jul 13, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - The earth shook as dozens of Harleys pulled into Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk this past Sunday morning.

Once a year for the past two decades, this group rides with a purpose: To raise money for kids who are severely disabled who make their home at the hospital.

The ringleader of this effort is Jo Ann Emmons, a Harley rider who has a very personal reason for wanting to help.

“I do it because I had grandchildren - twins - and they were severely premature, and we were told they probably wouldn’t make it," she explained.

Her grandbabies did make it and are thriving today. So, Jo Ann’s heart goes out to other family members who’s children need 24/7 care.

“I just wanted to do something for children, and we have severely handicapped children here at Lake Taylor and not a lot of people are not even aware that they’re here," Jo Ann said.

And the group has raised more than $50,000 over the years.

“The money goes to help them - educational toys, equipment that they need, and a lot of the things that the children need here. They grow, so they need bigger wheelchairs and clothes," she said.

While Jo Ann has been helping out with the charity every year, never did she think she would end up here.

But a few years ago….

"I was going cross country from California to Daytona, [Florida], and there was a dust devil that got caught up in the front part of my bike, and I broke about 104 bones.”

Dust devils are like mini tornadoes in the desert that can pop up out of nowhere.

Related: People Taking Action: Hampton dentist spreads holiday cheer in summer with donation to local food bank!

“I was transported here after being in the trauma center at St. Joseph's in Arizona," Jo Ann recalled. “Had they not come to my rescue as far as rehabilitation, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.”

Jo Ann thought News 3 was at the hospital to cover the Harley ride - which we were - but we were also there to surprise her with a People Taking Action award. We also gave her a $300 Visa gift card courtesy of Southern Bank, our community partner.

“Thank you," Jo Ann said.

To nominate someone for a People Taking Action Award,click here.