Bikers Honor Fellow Rider, Veteran In Kennedy Fundraiser

KENNEDY – Within seconds, more than 85 motorcycles descended upon Kennedy to honor a Vietnam veteran who died of cancer last year.

The Mel Perks Memorial Run was organized by Patty and Allen Sutter, co-owners of The Pad, to pay tribute to Perks. Money raised was to be donated to Hospice Chautauqua County.

Perks died April 13, 2012, after a short battle with cancer.

Patty Sutter said the memorial run was created to give back to hospice.

“They did such a great job helping Mel, and we wanted to do something that would give back to them,” she said.

A photo of Perks, an avid motorcycle rider, hangs outside The Pad.

“We thought a memorial run would be a great way to honor Mel,” Mrs. Sutter said, noting more than $2,500 had been raised by early Sunday.

The event took three weeks of planning.

“We hope this is something that we can do every year to honor him,” Mrs. Sutter said. “We’ll see how this goes before we decide what to do next year.”

By 2 p.m., amid scorching temperatures, dozens of motorcycles arrived as scheduled.

“I knew Mel and thought this would be a great way to remember him,” said Falconer resident Don Taylor, who arrived Sunday with his wife, Glori.

In addition to the motorcycle run, music was provided by Sean Patrick McGraw; drawings and a 50/50 were held as well.

Perks, a U.S. Army veteran, was employed at the former Jamestown Sterlingworth for 20 years, where he retired as plant manager. He later owned the Frewsburg News Room and Mel’s Place in Falconer.