RENO — 20-year veteran Sheriff Mike Jolley walked through the darkened, quiet ward filled with tiny infants hooked up to tubes and monitors, with bleeps reminding nurses of their newborn patients heartbeats.
In his pocket, he pulled out a key ring with what looked like a toy, metal foot and hand.
“I carry this around everywhere I go,” Jolley said. “It’s my good luck charm.”
The charms were made of actual molds of a footprint and hand print of a 1.5 pound preemie Jolley had met on his travels with the group called “Scott’s Ride for Miracles.”
Fourteen law enforcement men— many sherif’s in their respective counties— wearing cowboy hats, leather jackets and long western-style coats filled the hallways of Renown Children’s Hospital Friday as their Harley Davidson motorcycles sat parked outside. The “posse riders”, organized by Sheriff Jolley from a town in Georgia, were part-way through a 21-day, 48-state journey to raise awareness and money for the needs and services supported by Children’s Miracle Network. The journey started May 4.
In three years, the event has raised more than $280,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network. Ultimately, the group has pledged to raise $1 million for the network.
“We look pretty rough, but we’re all respectable people,” Jolley said with a smile. “The real heros are the doctors and the staff who work in each unit of the Children’s Network. They’re the real heros.”
Washoe County Undersheriff Todd Vinger was able to join the group while at the hospital to visit each section and learn about the care of the infants. He was impressed how the hospital had rebuilt the childrens’ wing to be peaceful as compared to other parts of the emergency room.
“It’s tranquil,” Vinger said.
Scott Ressmeyer, one of the posse riders, launched the event three years ago on his 50th birthday.
“This has always been about the babies and the children, Ressmeyer said. “Riding through rain, hail, wind and around tornadoes is nothing compared to what some of these little ones endure every day. If you can do something that makes a difference in some kids’ life that’s really what it is all about to us and myself.”
Ressmeyer said he enjoys seeing the smiles on the childrens’ faces when they show up.
As far as the riders, they have become “lifelong friends” in the past four years, he said.
The riders take three weeks vacation and pay for all expenses themselves. All money collected during the trip is donated to the Children’s Network and goes directly to the community where the money was collected.
“It’s strictly for awareness and for the kids. We love it,” Jolley said. “I can’t visit one of these places without being touched.”
Kimmy Boc, a developmental specialist with the Children’s Hospital at Renown said she thought the idea was “wonderful.”
“I think it’s wonderful how other communities come into our community to help promote awareness about the Children’s Miracle Network,” Boc said.
The funds raised will help purchase a special incubator and warmer combination unit that allows staff to care for newborn without having to move the baby and cause extra stress. The money will also go to help purchase other equipment, supplies and fund a renovation and expansion.
“It can help service all children in the area and take care of kids in the area,” Boc said.
The group is made up of all ages of men from all over the country. Posse member Walt Rosso, one of the older riders, will be 76 years old one month after he returns home to Cusseta, Georgia.
Vinger said he appreciated that the group stopped in Washoe County as part of the trip. Sheriff Mike Haley was unable to attend the event due to prior commitments.
“I think being a sheriff means community. They’re here to be part of our community,” Vinger said.
The group headed out of town after their hour-long visit at the hospital. They were planning to drive 434 miles Friday and eventually spend the night in John Day, Ore.
To donate or learn about Scott’s Ride For Miracles, visit www.yourhealthourmission.com. Those interested in the journey can follow the trip on the site.
The trip is sponsored by several companies, including Aflac, Harley Davidson and Neonatology Associates .