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Motorcycle ride benefits leukemia survivor

May 17, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Jessica Watters was admitted to Washington County Hospital with body aches in September 2008.

The 23-year-old was diagnosed with leukemia and told she had only days to live. Watters, of Hagerstown, was taken by helicopter to The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she began 37 days of in-patient treatment that included chemotherapy.

In December, Watters had a successful bone marrow transplant and is in remission.

"I'm just lucky I got a donor as quickly as I did," she said.

Watters is just beginning to set up payment plans for her medical treatment and said a fundraiser held for her Sunday will help.

About 30 motorcycle riders paid $25 to register for a one-hour ride, with the money going to Watters' medical fund. The ride started at Harley-Davidson in Williamsport and ended at Beef 'O' Brady's in Hagerstown, which is owned by Watters' mother.

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Watters was working at Beef 'O' Brady's before her diagnosis while she was studying for the LSAT and planning to attend law school. She graduated from East Carolina University in 2008 with a degree in criminal justice.

Watters, a 2004 North Hagerstown High School graduate, said she hopes to start taking classes part time again if her June checkup is clean.

"I want to at least start doing something," said Watters.

She said Sunday was the first time she had been on a motorcycle ride, and was a passenger on a friend's bike.

"I feel good," Watters said. "I'm just thankful for everything."

Jim Kline of Hagerstown is a member of the Harley Owners Group chapter in Williamsport, and served as the road captain for Sunday's 50-mile ride.

"It's a very worthy cause," said Kline, of Hagerstown. "Our chapter (of HOG) is about doing what we can for people who need help."

Tracy Sprecher of Hagerstown is the HOG chapter's assistant director, and said Sunday's ride was for a good cause.

"Times are tough right now," he said. "Everyone needs a little help."

Brooke Wood of Hagerstown, said her father, Michael Martin, often participates in charity motorcycle rides, but Sunday was her first.

She said Sunday's ride was a good opportunity to support a local person and business.

"Harley riders are very giving people," said T.L. Lewis, general manager of the Williamsport Harley-Davidson.

He said the business has participated in many charity rides since it opened in 2003.

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