Bikers rally for ‘Big John’

Published 6:00 pm Monday, June 24, 2024

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Almost 100 bikers mounted their motorcycles on June 14 to honor the late Sheriff “Big John” Williams in the Ramblin’ Thunder Bike Rally. 

Williams was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2019. After his death, Angela and Daniel Rudolph founded the Ramblin’ Thunder Bike Rally, a motorcycle ride dedicated in his honor, which passes through the different communities of Lowndes County.

“Probably about a month after he passed, my husband had a dream,” Angela said. “He came to me with it and said, ‘You know, we need to do something. I dreamed about John.’ He said, ‘I just want to form a bike ride with about five or six guys and ladies, and whoever, just to ride the county, just to honor him that way.”

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Over time, organizers have seen bikers from both inside and outside their community, coming from Jacksonville, Florida and Clarksville, Tennessee for the event. Now, five years later, the Ramblin’ Thunder Bike Rally continues parading around the same communities that Williams once patrolled. 

During the rally, bikers ride in a parade led by police officers, resulting in an almost three-hour drive across the county. 

“To see everyone come out and support my father and honor him, it really puts a smile on my face,” said Shanice Williams, “Big John’s” daughter. “With it being Father’s Day weekend, the fathers could have been anywhere, but they decided to take time out of their busy day to come here and to show support and help honor my father.”

In addition to the bike rally, there were also raffles, bouncy houses for the children and food provided. Through the funds raised during the rally, the organization is able to help fund awards through the “Big John” Williams Scholarship for high schoolers graduating in Lowndes County. 

“Each year is getting bigger and better,” Angela said. “We’re hoping to get it where we can get this thing nationwide. That’s our dream.”

Each biker had the opportunity to win different prizes from the sponsors of the event. 

As the bikers rode out of Hayneville, into the parade, the dream of a nationwide rally was brought one mile closer. 

“I just want to thank all the bikers and all the other supporters for coming out today to help share this event with us,” Angela said.