Skip to main content

Tabitha Blog

Tabitha Blog

Tabitha Hospice Gives a Lift to Lifelong Rider

Donald Starkey’s first ride was a red Cushman motor scooter.

He taught himself how to ride it for trips home to his family’s farm outside Albion on the occasional weekends he returned from working the hayfields out by Bartlett during the summer. Better than 100 miles round trip.

Don was 12 years old.

More than 60 years later, with a Honda Gold Wing, a Kawasaki and all the Harley-Davidsons in between, Don still loves motorcycles and the sound of those thundering pipes.

There have been a few bumps along the way. There was the time around 2013 when Don rode up to Niagara Falls and into Canada with his brothers Gary and Doug, and his nephew Shawn. That particular trip involved a jammed trailer hitch, Don’s totaled Harley on the side of the road, and a life flight to Toronto with broken vertebrae in his neck and a host of other injuries.

But mostly there’s been the beauty of nature—riding alongside his partner Joyce Roper and a wild colt through Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota—the camaraderie and companionship of his fellow riders, and his love of Harleys.

Time to Rally

Don’s always been a fighter. After he totaled his Harley in Canada, the doctors told him he needed six to eight weeks with no activity. A week later, he had picked out and purchased a new Harley, though he couldn’t ride it for another two months.

Now 74, Don suffered a major stroke that completely paralyzed his arm and leg on one side, leaving him unable to ride. He is receiving hospice care through Tabitha and is now a Resident at Harvard Rest Haven.

When the teams at Tabitha and Harvard Rest Haven came together to plan his care, they decided to do something special for the lifelong motorcycle rider

It was Rosie Dinan, Don’s Tabitha hospice nurse, who came up with the idea.

“Rosie wondered if it would be possible to organize a rally of fellow riders to drive by so that Mr. Starkey could enjoy the sound he hasn’t been able to hear for a while,” said McKenna O’Rourke, a regional business development coordinator at Tabitha.

O’Rourke reached out to DJ Martinez, who rides with the ABATE of Nebraska motorcycle club—a group known for their involvement in the community. Together, they were able to coordinate a special rally for a special rider. The plan came together in a week.

Joining the Club

Don himself was never part of a motorcycle club, per se—other than the Harley Owners Group—but he had buddies he rode with. Guys he met through Alcoholics Anonymous and Co-Dependents Anonymous. Friends he took trips all over the country with, from Arizona and California to Utah and Washington. The ones who went with him to the Harley-Davidson Hometown Rally in Milwaukee, where they all ended up having to share one hotel room. And his family. Don’s brothers, two of his four sons. All riders.

He may be a bit of an honorary member of a club now, though.

On April 24, members of ABATE drove through a circle drive at Don’s nursing home several times, revving their engines so they roared. He was able to check out their bikes after they parked and even rev one up himself.

“Seeing the joy on his face was magical,” O’Rourke said.

Three of Don’s four brothers were there too. Gary was on a Harley, while Doug rode a Harley Trike. And Mike rode Don’s Can-Am—a trike motorcycle with two wheels in the front and one in the back—so Don could see it again.

After the rally was over, after they had shared stories of their favorite rides and talked about Harleys, the ABATE members had one more surprise for Don: a statue of a motorcyclist kneeling beside a bike and saying a prayer.

Tabitha Hospice supports clients facing life-limiting illnesses and their families, fulfilling Tabitha’s Purpose of empowering people to live joyfully, age gratefully. Learn more about Tabitha Hospice or contact us.

News Feed

Are you feeling ready to jump into 2023 or like you're still stuck in 2022? Read more to learn how to take on New Year's with all loose ends tied up and with a positive attitude!

It’s time for the annual Subaru Share the Love Event. Tabitha’s participates to support Tabitha Meals on Wheels program and as a member of Meals on Wheels America. Read on to learn how you can purchase or lease a Subaru and give back to Lincoln residents.

Tabitha supporters, donors and sponsors raised over $225,000 at this year's Signature Event. Read more.

Thanks to your strong support, Tabitha was, once again, awarded top honors in the 2022 Best of Lincoln awards! Read more.

As we find ourselves approaching the holidays, your tension or stress may be building. Here's how altering your mindset and practicing gratitude can flip your mood around. Read more.

Tabitha, Nebraska's industry-leading Senior Care provider, received top honors for In-Home Health Care and Hospice in the 2022 Best of Grand Island awards. Read more.

Seven Tabitha Senior Veterans were recognized with a private flight above Memorial Stadium, the Nebraska Capitol and north Lincoln on Aug. 29.

Cameron Zargar covers a podcast interview held between Long-Term Heroes and Tabitha President & CEO Christie Hinrichs. Read more.

Most people have experienced receiving tough news, witnessing the death of a loved one or having traumatic events happen in their lives. Read more to learn how to support someone in your life who is going through hard times.

Tabitha in Crete has received the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living's (AHCA/NCAL) Silver – Achievement in Quality Award for 2022.

Help us make Tabitha the Best of York County’s 2022 Best In-Home provider! Read more.

How you eat has a larger impact on your overall health than you may think. Read more of Tabitha's September Health Tip to learn just why gut health really matters!

Vote Tabitha daily and help us reach Best of Lincoln honors in several categories. From Aug. 15-31, make your vote heard at BestofLincoln.net.

Tabitha Meals on Wheels has been selected as a finalist for The Big Give—meaning a potential $100,000 donation from Union Bank & Trust. Seniors need your vote by Aug. 26, 2022. Read more.

Whether you choose to volunteer your time, get involved in the community or even commit time to strengthening your relationships, living an altruistic life provides many ways to impact others around you.