KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A long-distance motorcycle ride from Maryville to Alaska is raising money for two organizations that help seniors in honor of Mary Ann Ruppert, a longtime educator who died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2020.

Dr. Charlie Barnard, a local pastor, and his wife Teresa Barnard will be logging 9,000 miles on their journey from Maryville to Alaska and back. They are revving up for a Ride to Remember to benefit Our Place and Senior Citizens Home Assistance Service, or SCHAS.

“We’re very aware of Alzheimer’s disease,” Charlie Barnard said, “because it’s in our family and that’s one of the reasons we keep coming back to this. And being caregivers, we understand that it’s a 36-hour day and we want to help these two organizations that are actually helping caregivers.”

This is not their first ride. The Barnards have traveled for a variety of causes for a while now on this mission of love.

“We met very interesting people along the way,” Teresa Barnard explained. “That is probably the most fun for us, meeting different people and what they do and why they’re on the road. Just the beauty of God’s country across America is just worth the trip.”

In fact, the couple has traveled 534,000 miles on motorcycles since they were 16 years old. This year the bike they’re riding is their 16th.

Their goal is $80,000 raised by donations per mile. Half will go to Our Place for operating costs.

“If they can help us out,” said Jim Dezzutti, Volunteer Chair for Our Place, “right now it goes to continue to run and fund the programs we’re running which help and assist people with mainly socialization type programs.”

The other half raised during the ride will go to SCHAS for a new vehicle for use in Blount and Loudon Counties in its transportation program.

“This means the world to us,” said SCHAS CEO Tim Howell, “that we’re able to benefit from this and to take people to doctor’s appointments and take them grocery shopping to pick out their own food if they want to, get their pets to the veterinarian’s offices if we have to.”

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Here’s hoping for safe travels for this caring couple on their latest journey together to make a difference for others.

The Mary Ann Ruppert Ride to Remember kicks off in June. To donate, visit or