I've had the fortune to work with some amazing people in the motorcycle community and industry with some incredible stories and bikes. But, every now and then, there comes a story that grabs you by the heart and pulls you in the more you listen. The story of Jennifer (Jenn) Lee and her tribute Suzuki GSX-R 600 for her mother Joyce Evelyn is such a story.
Growing up in Lake Ridge, VA Jenn had a typical happy fun-filled athletic childhood well into her teenage years with a close loving relationship with her mother. Unfortunately, Jenn's world was forever changed when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, three weeks before Christmas. Of course this was devastating. Jenn and her family faced this threat head on with her mother's typical fighting spirit and positive attitude while remaining in prayer that her mom would be able to share an uplifting story of becoming a breast cancer survivor. Sadly, Joyce lost her battle and passed away on August 2nd, 2000 as Jenn tightly held her in her arms, only eight short months after her diagnosis and just two weeks after Jenn's 16th birthday.
After Joyce's passing, Jenn went through a rebellious period. "I did things I know my mother wouldn't have been happy with" she said regretfully. "I was mad. I was hurt and acted out of character at times, but realized that behavior wasn't healthy or helping me to heal." It was at this point, Jenn decided to make a change for the better. Being self-diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, this adrenaline fueled fitness junkie bought a used 2006 Suzuki GSX-R 600 from Garwood Custom Cycles as a means to recapture her life. She was no stranger to the world of motorcycles with her father being a rider and she previously owning a Hayabusa. This bike, however, was not going to be a fleeting interest or merely a post traumatic life experience purchase. She had serious plans in mind.
Still greatly missing the friendly sound, warm touch and even the unforgettable familiar fragrance of her mother, Jenn reached out to Garwood Custom Cycles for their expertise in transforming her stock GSX-R into a tribute bike. "I was cheated out of having mom with me for homecomings, my prom, my graduation and other significant life events that a young girl needs her mother for," Jenn said. "I wanted to feel like my mother was still with me, riding with me", she continued.
Throughout the build, Jenn and Steve Garwood (co-owner) discussed various concepts and ideas. Jenn, however, never saw the completed bike until it was unveiled to a crowd of hundreds during the infamous Daytona Bike Week. Overcome with emotion, Jenn immediately fell to her knees with joy and heartfelt reverence seeing the work of art Garwood Custom Cycles created. "Words absolutely failed me. They took a personal interest in my story and far exceeded my expectations. They are family and I can’t thank them enough for what they've given back to me." she said emotionally.
Beyond the modifications such as lowering the bike, the custom lighting and wheels, Jenn's GSX-R truly serves as a symbol of hope and inspiration with Joyce's uplifting words of encouragement "Believe, Faith, Perseverance, Never Slow Down and Fight Like a Girl" artfully woven throughout the pink and white paint scheme.
Although the pain of missing her Mom will always remain, through her loss and determination, Jenn has turned a painful life experience into a show of strength and encouragement while inspiring countless others through sharing her story of a daughter's love and a mother's strength.
For more on the talented works and outreach efforts from Garwood Custom Cycles visit: garwoodcustomcycles.com.
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