The Brantford woman who fell seven storeys from a London balcony last year was lifted up Saturday by a community of bikers.
More than 100 riders turned out for the Ride for Des, a fundraiser for Desiree Gallagher, who was seriously injured after being beaten and then falling from the balcony in 2013.
“It makes me feel so good that people care about me,” Gallagher said as bikers roared along Catharine Avenue, returning from a round trip to Port Dover.
“I love motorcycles and I want to ride.”
The beating and fall left the 23-year-old blind and with significant swelling of the brain. Her spine, arm and ankle were broken in the fall.
Some medical treatments aren’t covered and a previous fundraiser has helped the family buy an orthopaedic bed, portable wheelchair ramps, a stairlift and pay for Gallagher’s three-times-a-week therapy.
“When I go to physio, two people can get on either side of me, get me on my feet and I can walk,” Gallagher said.
“Seeing all these people here makes me want to push harder.”
Two members of the Woodstock area Iron Sirens presented Gallagher with an “angel bell”, an item that many bikers have attached somewhere on their motorcycles.
“This is for your wheels,” explained Deb Roswell, the first officer of the Woodstock group.
The bell must never be purchased by a rider but must be a gift, added Carol Ziemann of Brantford.
The women also promised that, next year, Gallagher would ride in at least part of the event.
“We’re working on something,” they told her mysteriously.
Organizers John Kormos and Trevelle Misick were delighted with the excellent turn-out for the event and the fine weather.
The two said they expected the day would bring in about $10,000 to help Gallagher, her mother, Susan Gerth, and father, Steve Gerth, with the extra costs associated with Gallagher’s situation.
“Once you tell people Des’s story, they want to help,” said Misick.
The two men got a number of sponsors and supporters involved and arranged for a barbecue and live music after the ride ended at the Knights of Columbus hall.
A London man with a previous history of violence was arrested and convicted in Gallagher’s case.
Justin Primmer, 30, pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm after police found photos of Gallagher’s beaten face on his phone. He served three months of a six-month sentence and was out of jail, back in London, before Gallagher was out of the hospital.
Because of her brain injury, which require a part of her skull to be removed to relieve swelling there, Gallagher has lost all memory of what happened to cause her traumatic fall last May and has no idea of the details.
Gallagher’s friends and supporters have established a FaceBook page to keep people updated on her condition and an ongoing bank account for anyone who wants to donate to the cause.
The FaceBook page can be found at Desiree Gallagher Hope, Love and Support.