By Doris Maricle / American Press
KINDER — Rolling thunder filled the air Saturday as hundreds of bikers descended on Lambert Park to make a local man’s wish come true. Stewart “Buddy” Vidrine, who has Down syndrome, wanted to be a biker for his 26th birthday. Leather-clad bikers from Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas joined others to surprise Buddy as they lavished him with gifts of leather jackets, gloves, helmets, patches and rings before giving him an unforgettable ride. “This is the best birthday ever,” Buddy said with a huge grin as the bikers gathered to meet him. “I like bikers.”
Buddy invited his new friends back to see him get a tattoo when he turns 63. Buddy’s mother, Tina Vidrine was overwhelmed with the turnout and the way that everything came together so quickly with one post on the Internet. “It’s just so wonderful,” she said, wiping away tears. “He wanted to be a biker for his birthday. I never expected this. I guess if he wanted to be a cowboy, we would have had cowboys.”
She said Buddy’s fascination with bikers began after watching Disney’s “Teen Beach” movie, which had a biker gang in it. “That’s all he talked about, then he wanted a biker’s vest and gloves for Christmas,” she said. “It just went from there.” When Jeffrey E. Kohn of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and others heard Buddy’s story, they rallied more than 200 bikers from all over the U.S. to help make the wish come true.
Wheel Da Clown, a member of the Syrian Shriners Clown Unit, rode 980 miles from Cincinnati. “I saw it on Facebook, and it seemed like a good thing to do,” he said. “I was expecting a couple of dozen bikers when I got here, but I didn’t expect this many. This is a shocker.” Joe Lacey rode over 300 miles from Jackson, Miss. “It was an opportunity to ride, and to be a part of something special like this is so great,” Lacey said. “Just seeing all these bikers show up here is really phenomenal.”
Mallory “Doc” Lessard of Jennings said Buddy’s special day did not stop with the gathering on Saturday. “If he ever wants a biker to visit him or to go somewhere, all he has to do is call,” Lessard said. Many bikers talked about making the gathering an annual event.