FRANKLIN, Indiana — Some 300 motorcyclists drove from the central Indiana hometown of a teenager hospitalized in critical condition to the site of the swimming accident that killed two of her high school friends.
The fundraising ride began Sunday in Franklin and paused for several minutes of silence on a bridge overlooking the Big Blue River at Edinburgh where 16-year-old Sarah McLevish was swept over a small dam on June 6 and friends from Franklin Community High School tried to rescue her.
The rescue attempt killed 17-year-old Jason Moran, whose body was found by a diver two days later near the dam's base, and 16-year-old Michael Chadbourne, who died the following week after being hospitalized in critical condition.
McLevish's mother, Bobbi Hubbard, took part in the motorcycle ride and told reporters her daughter remains on a ventilator and has had brain swelling.
"She's showing a little bit of improvement every day as far as automatic reflexes, opening eyes, coughing, gaging, yawning," Hubbard said.
Many of the riders wore ribbons with the 1,700-student high school's blue-and-white colors and wristbands with the phrase "Franklin Strong."
Cheryl Cash, an organizer of the event, said many people wanted to do something to help the teenagers' families.
"Everyone has a time of need, and they're in a time of need right now," Cash said. "Heavy bills, medical bills, and so forth. It's our way of giving back to the community."
Hubbard said the turnout for the ride was inspiring as she's spent most of the past couple weeks at her daughter's hospital room.
"This is one of my first full days away and we're going to get out here and ride and get some wind therapy," she said.
Organizers are planning another ride in October, specifically for McLevish's medical expenses.
Shelly Hartwell, one of Sunday's ride participants, said the stop near the dam about 30 miles south of Indianapolis was poignant.
"I have a son who fishes at the river and it has broken our whole community's heart to see what the families went through," she said.