Melissa’s Wish

Dee Sniders 15th Annual Ride Benefitting Melissa’s Wish

Photos by Cowboy, Sonny McKuskie, Ron Monteleone


This being the 15th year of Dee Snider’s Ride is very special. With Dee’s passion and leadership his ride has become one of the largest and longest running charity rides on Long Island. Over the last 14 years this ride has raised $1.3 million dollars and could only do so with the great support of the motorcycle community and a small army of dedicated committee members and volunteers as well as some very generous sponsors.

I was privileged to volunteer on the very first ride that left from Eisenhower Park and rode to Bald Hill in the pouring rain. Rob Schneider and Lighthouse Harley-Davidson came on board as the very first sponsor of Dee’s Ride and we had about 74 bikes that first year. I went to work with Rob and the team at Lighthouse Harley-Davidson the following year and continued as a committee member of Dee Snider’s Ride and later the ride chair.

Dee’s passion for others has led us to raise funds for March of Dimes for the first 10 years. This was a cause near and dear to Dee and his wife Suzette as several of their children were born prematurely. They lived the challenges and difficulties of a premature birth and vowed to help others that were struggling.

When hurricane Sandy hit Dee and Twisted Sister did a number of fund raisers for those affected by the storm. It was during this time that he pulled the team together to discuss going in another direction. Dee felt it was time to redirect the ride effort to help those on Long Island. He became familiar with Long Island Cares and he was staggered to learn of the large amount of homeless and hungry in our own back yard. The committee agreed and we worked with Paule Pachter and the dedicated team at LI Cares for 4 years. It was a great run with a great organization, but once again Dee felt that it was time to redirect the efforts of his team.

Dee and the team decided to support Melissa’s Wish, a not for profit conceived and inspired by a young lady in the final days of her life. Melissa was diagnosed at the age of 26 with a very rare abdominal cancer with no known cure. Melissa was told that she had 6 months to live and her simple reply to her oncologist and surgeon was “that’s just not good enough”! Melissa launched a fight that lasted 6 ½ years, 3 major surgeries, approximately 3 years of chemo therapy, all while working as much as she could. She asked for no pity and lived each day to its fullest by finding the bright spot, as dim as it might be.

The final months of Melissa’s life were spent in hospice. It was here that she called her father and asked him to come and pick her up with his bike for one final ride. Her father was puzzled and knew that Melissa was on large amounts of morphine and might not be thinking clearly. He asked her if she knew where she was and she replied, “Of course.” He then asked if the staff knew of her plans and she replied, “I got a pass.” He asked if she told them what she wanted to do and she replied, “Yes.” He then asked what they said and she replied, “They thought it was too dangerous”, and she replied, “What am I going to get, cancer?” Melissa took that ride with her dad down to Northport and sat by the water for a bit with her mother and father. This is just a glimpse of how Melissa lived and loved life.

I’m proud to say that this inspiring young lady is the daughter of myself and my wife Fran and the sister of Brian.  On Melissa’s last day with us she asked if we did anything in her name could we please help the caregivers of those afflicted with a serious illness. Her observation was that the patient gets what they need, but the care givers are left physically, emotionally and financially devastated.

The second thing she asked us was to tell all “If you remember just one thing about me please remember that I was neither a victim nor a survivor, I was a cancer warrior.”

Thank you for supporting Dee’s Ride for 15 years and thank you for your support of Melissa’s Wish.

Bill, Fran and Brian Blackford