Trail of Tears Riders Provide UTC Scholarship

An event which began with only eight motorcycle riders in 1994, from Ross's Landing in Chattanooga and continued to Waterloo, Alabama, has today grown to a phenomenal 80,000 people and a calvalcade 47 miles long. Commemorating the 1830 Trail of Tears removal of 17,000 Indians from North and south Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, the 200-mile event is now the larges such ride in the United States, and "probably the world," says one of its founders,Bill Cason of Whitwell. "The growth of the ride has been unbelievable."

More than 4,000 native Americans perished on the harsh overland march, and it is in their honor that Cason and Judy Ridge, local graphic designer and biker, devote countless hours each year orgnanizing the event. This year an estimated record of 100,000 people greeted the parade of gleaming motorcycles along the way.

Selling hats, t-shirts and other commemorative items, the Alabama-Tennessee Trail of Tears Corridor Association, Inc., raised thousands of dollars. This year the board voted to give that money away, again for the benefit of and to bring recognition to Native Americans. Establishing the Alabama-Tennessee Trail of Tears Corridor Association Scholarship at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was a first-step. The scholarship is to be awarded to a registered member of an American tribe.

Other funds will be directed for causes in the state of Alabama.

On Saturday, October 28, during halftime ceremonies at the UTC vs. Appalachian State, representatives of the organization, including Carson and Ridge, will roar into the endzone at Finley Stadium and present to UTC Chancellor Bill W. Stacy the first check in the amount of $10,000 for the scholarship.

"We are honored to be the recipients of this generous gift which will enable UTC to recruit to our campus more Native American students," said Stacy. "This meaningful event will become even more significant as it provides an opportunity for more young people wishing to seek a degree in higher education. I look forward to seeing more spectacular results from the recipients of this scholarship, and I thank everyone who had a part in its establishment."

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