PHOTOS: Debbie Gabel Memorial Cancer Ride

Photos by Heidi Harris/Times-Record.

The eighth annual Debbie Gabel Memorial Motorcycle Ride was held Saturday, July 23, in Valley City. A downpour delayed the start of the ride by about an hour.

The event kicked off Friday with a street dance and live music by Front Fenders at Boomer's Corner Keg in Valley City. The ride was held Saturday and started at Boomer's.

Net proceeds benefit Hospice of the Red River Valley.

The motorcycle ride was started eight years ago by Rocky Gabel, husband to the late Debbie Gabel, who passed away after a battle with ovarian cancer in 2009. Hospice of the Red River Valley cared for Debbie while she was ill.

Debbie was born and raised in Valley City. She and Rocky married in 1975 and had their son Joey in 1984.

After Debbie was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, Rocky said she read an article suggesting that everybody should have going to the Strugis Motorcycle Rally on their bucket lists. Neither Debbie nor Rocky were motorcyclists at the time, but they decided to go to the rally in their pickup. They were impressed with the people they met and bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle in Fargo when they came back. They each drove their own for a while, and Debbie started riding with Rocky when she became too sick to drive.

After five surgeries and seven rounds with chemotherapy and radiation, Debbie was told she only had two days to two weeks to live. She decided she wanted to spend her final days in the comfort and privacy of her own home, where Rocky cared for her with the help of Hospice.

Hospice touched Rocky so much that he wanted to help the organization and keep Debbie's memory alive. That's when he founded the Thundering Saints organization, which puts on the Debbie Gabel Ride each year.