Event to raise roof for fallen rider

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WALLA WALLA — JoAnne Mohrland plans to rock the house Saturday night. The musician — who has been part of the Walla Walla music scene for years — expects to give her fans and friends the party they’ve all been longing for. The one many feared could never happen again.

Even Mohrland has wondered from time to time over the long summer.

Yet bands are tuning up and volunteers are busy at work creating the Jammin’ for Jo Motorcycle Awareness event.

On May 28, the 53-year-old was one of a group of four motorcycle riders involved in a crash in Baker County, Ore. As the two men and two women rode northbound on Highway 7 at about 12:30 p.m., southbound Derrick Coates, driving a Nissan pickup, crossed the center line, striking Leta Currey of Pendleton and Mohrland on separate motorcycles.

The two women were experienced and enthusiastic motorcycle riders. Currey belonged to the Northwest Iron Maidens women’s motorcycle group, and Mohrland to Twisted Sisters, an assortment of area professional women who ride motorcycles and horses together.

The two clubs had similar vision and participated jointly in rides and projects.

Currey was killed in the collision and Mohrland nearly so, news reports said. The list of injuries included a ruptured spleen and severed lung, and many broken broken bones. She was airlifted to Boise and spent a week in critical care, followed by weeks in a rehabilitation center.

While the lifesaving flight left Mohrland to fight another day, the bill for the service came due within days — $32,000.

That’s when Twisted Sisters had to kick it into gear, noted member Laura Munns. “We had lost Leta and we felt impotent. We wanted to do something, so we decided to organize a nonprofit and offset (Mohrland’s) recuperative expenses.”

In record time, the group sought and received nonprofit status for the Twisted Sisters Downed Rider Fund. The group then assembled an ambitious list of fundraisers to help cover the many costs of any accident that health insurance doesn’t touch, Munns said.

“We also wanted to raise awareness and reach out to others who have been in similar accidents,” Twisted Sister member Cheryl Husted said.

Saturday’s event represents an outpouring of community and local-business support of that mission, Munns said. The three-band night will feature the reunions of Iguana Hat and Kool Katz — both of which Mohrland sang with and will again for the evening. As well, Gary Winston and the Read Deal will play.

The Walla Walla Elks Lodge is providing food and beverage at cost and has donated the building for the cause, as have all the musicians, Husted said.

Every component of the “Jammin’ for Jo” fundraiser is stunning to her and her family, Mohrland said this week. “It absolutely swells my heart beyond capacity.”

To read an interview with Joanne Mohrland, blogs.ublabs.org/fromthestorageroom. Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

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