Almost 2,000 bikers have rallied to honor a Humphreys County toddler who lost his life in the Tennessee floods. The 2-year-old who adored motorbikes had a procession, where members gathered to escort the little boy’s hearse to the funeral home, making the sendoff an absolutely emotional one.
Bikers congregated in downtown Dickson, while another group met in Clarksville with their Yamahas and Harley-Davidsons humming in anticipation. Many had never met the boy, Kellen Burrow Vaughn; but they simply wanted to pay their respects.
“They only asked for bikers to come and ride behind the hearse, but they got so much more,” attendee Donna Steel Magnolia Douglas-Williams wrote on Facebook, sharing photos of the humongous turnout.
Kellen’s grandfather Allen Burrow described his “always happy” grandson to the Tennessean as being much like himself. “Just every time you hear a bike, you look around, see who it is, see if you know him,” he explained. “He just loved seeing bikes.”
Burrow—a member of Tennessee’s Forbidden Shields motorcycle group alongside his wife, Mandy—took to Facebook to ask fellow bikers to escort Kellen to his final resting place. His close friend Mark Rose was heartbroken to learn of Kellen’s passing, and took it upon himself to spread the word.
Rose went live on Facebook on Aug. 29. By the next morning, his post had amassed over 1,000 views, traveling fast via the hashtag #RideForKellen, a tag dreamed up by social media campaign contributor Alicia Schnepf and her 14-year-old daughter.
“At this point, I knew it was going to be huge,” Rose told The Epoch Times. With Burrow’s and Kellen’s mom’s permission, he started making calls, and support gathered quickly.
Kellen was ripped from his mother’s arms by floodwater currents on Aug. 21 outside the family’s Waverly apartment. His mom, Brittney EleBri McCord, and his stepfather, Kalaub, fought hard and saved their other four children, WKRN reported.
Tragically, Kellen’s body was retrieved days later, making him one of the flood victims who lost their lives.
Dickson’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the ladies auxiliary were the first people Rose contacted to ask for support at Kellen’s memorial, followed by the city police, the sheriff’s office, Taylor Funeral Home—where Kellen’s service was held—and several local businesses.
“This message shows me there’s still so much good in the world,” said Schnepf. “We literally shut down Dickson for this child, which is absolutely amazing.”
The VFW ladies’ auxiliary arranged food, Rose told The Epoch Times, while he set up sound, lighting, and video, assigning street corners to volunteer guides to direct and count attending bikers. He credited the “collective effort” for the day’s success.
Initially counting 770 bikers, Rose estimated that the eventual turnout was closer to 2,000. “It was incredible! The biker community showed up and showed out,” he said.
Douglas-Williams—who had lost an infant herself and went on to foster 43 children, adopting 2—pledged, “Anything for a child. It’s so hard to face … Love heals some of the wounds, but you never forget.”
Among those blown away by Kellen’s memorial was Deputy Mike Webb, a 40-year law enforcement veteran of Humphreys County.
“It was a national news story that this little boy likes bikes,” said Webb. “His family wanted a turnout. Well, he got a turnout.”
Watch the video:
(Courtesy of Donna Steel Magnolia Douglas-Williams)