Harley-Davidson Fanatic Battling Terminal Cancer Is Given a Birthday Joyride to Remember
"They handled it beautifully," said Tom Strehlow, a long-time Harley Davidson rider. "It was just fabulous."
A Harley-Davidson fanatic who's battling terminal cancer has been given a special birthday surprise as loved ones helped him experience the road one last time.
Tom Strehlow of New Berlin, Wis., celebrated an early 78th birthday in the sidecar of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle among 25 friends, family and strangers who took a group ride around town.
Because of his terminal cancer diagnosis, close friends and family are not sure he will make it to his next birthday.
“They handled it beautifully," Strehlow told InsideEdition.com. "It was just fabulous. I’ve never ridden in a sidecar before.”
His daughter Michelle Olson, 47, added, “He had the wind in his hair again. People we didn’t even know came out to support my dad.”
Members of the Milwaukee Police Department rode their own bikes among the crowd to provide a motorcycle escort for the 30-minute ride.
“I wasn’t on a motorcycle, I was in my car, but it was really neat to go through all those red stop signs legally,” Strehlow’s wife Mary Jane told InsideEdition.com. “It was great.”
When the group arrived at the end point, the Harley-Davidson Museum, the family was met with what they called “the red carpet treatment.”
“Upon his arrival, we greeted him with a hero’s welcome,” said Tim McCormick, a museum spokesman. “We all stood and clapped as they rolled in, we helped him into his wheelchair and when he entered the museum, we gifted him with a brand new leather jacket. It looked like his old one had seen better days.”
They even gave him a personalized tour of the museum, where a couple of Strehlow’s late brother’s items were on display.
“[He and] my dad used to ride across the U.S. on his Harley,” Olson said. “They would ride together every summer.”
Olson explained her dad would often take month-long motorcycle trips in his youth.
He also worked for the company as a machinist and welder for 35 years.
“When you think about Harley-Davidson and my dad, it’s who he was and is,” his daughter explained. “He not only worked there, he rode his Harley every summer.”
Despite the grim diagnosis, the family is staying positive.
“He sees the beauty in each day," his daughter said. "We’ve come out the other side and we appreciate every day, don’t we, dad?”
“Yes, that’s true,” Strehlow replied.
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