January 20, 2022

Showing their mettle

Cortland Chrome Divas ride to fight breast cancer

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Wearing a pastel pink tutu, Debra “Goldie” Ferrara, member of the Rochester Chrome Divas, parks her motorcycle at the Elm Tree Inn in McLean after a 90-mile ride for breast cancer awareness. Chrome Divas from Rochester and Watertown joined the Cortland chapter for their second Divas and Dudes Ride for a Cure fundraiser to benefit the Guthrie Cortland Medical Center’s oncology center.

The sound of engines idling could be heard before the riders turned the corner onto McLean Road. Even at a distance, spectators could see the bright pink decorating the riders and their motorcycles.

The Cortland Chrome Divas, an all-women motorcycle club, hit the road Saturday for a charity ride to raise money to fight breast cancer.

“The ride was beautiful and everybody got home safe — that was the best thing, I wanted everyone to have a great ride,” said Toni “Angel” Miller, director of the Cortland chapter. “I’m hoping that next year we’ll have even more people.”

Organizers estimated the turnout Saturday was similar to Cortland’s first Chrome Divas and Dudes for a Cure ride in 2019, when 80 motorcyclists took part. Both weekends, bikes were decorated with pink ribbons, balloons, tassels, feathers, handkerchiefs and the occasional bra.

The ride was about 90 miles through the countryside, looping from McLean to Skaneateles and back to the Elm Tree Inn for an evening of entertainment, featuring music by Hangman’s Heart and Roger P. Decker.

Prizes were raffled, a silent auction, a chicken barbecue, bake sales and more. Registration fees were $10 per rider or passenger and $8 for visitors who skipped the ride, and all proceeds go to the Guthrie Cortland Medical Center’s oncology center.

The Cortland Divas are continuing a tradition started by the Watertown chapter, which dissolved last year. Although the national organization hosts other rides and fundraisers, some local chapters, like Watertown and now Cortland, want to raise money to help local families.

“Watertown had done it for several years,” said Shawn “Sasse” Gilbert. “I think it’s important. A lot of people want to raise money and want to help, but they want to see it stay in our community.”

The Watertown chapter had an annual breast cancer awareness ride for more than a decade, raising more than $100,000 in total, said Danielle Harper, former director for the Watertown chapter and current secretary for the national Chrome Divas organization.

“The money stayed in our local community for breast cancer patients,”
Harper said.

“It’s a great cause and it’s something I’m passionate about,” Harper said. “The money raised stays local and helps breast cancer patients — men or women, it doesn’t matter who it is — if they need help financially, we want to make sure they have what they need. They don’t need to worry about anything, we want them to take care of their health.”

Debra “Goldie” Ferrara, a member of the Rochester chapter, said most of their group rode down Friday afternoon to support their fellow Divas and people affected by cancer.

“We’re raising money for breast cancer,” Ferrara said. d“A lot of women need help financially when fighting breast cancer. Maybe they don’t have medical assistance to get things done, whether that’s getting their mammograms done to be proactive or if it’s reactive and a matter of having enough funds to stop the spread of cancer.”

Many of the Divas know someone who had breast cancer.

“We’re women supporting women,” Ferrara said. “Supporting women by doing events like this, because we need to get ourselves out there more and raise awareness, especially with breast cancer.”