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Holcomb says stroke won't keep him from benefit ride
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RIcky “Big Bird� Holcomb and his wife, Paige Holcomb, are seen last week at Big Bird’s Big Twins & Leather shop in Ridgeway. Ricky Holcomb has been involved in organizing benefit runs for various local causes. Although he had a stroke in January, Holcomb says he will ride in the annual Toy Run in December, which benefits Christmas Cheer. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Ricky "Big Bird" Holcomb, who for years has organized motorcycle rides to benefit local causes, said he will not let the effects of a major stroke keep him from helping the community.

"I will ride" in the Toy Run in December, Holcomb said last week.

It will mark his 18th year organizing the Toy Run, an event that collects gifts and money for Christmas Cheer, which provides Christmas gifts and food for local families in need.

"If I don't ride the motorcycle, I'll ride the truck or whatever," said Holcomb, who also organizes or helps organize events such as the Jennifer Short Memorial Ride and numerous poker runs.

Holcomb suffered a major stroke on Jan. 30, according to his wife, Paige Holcomb. She said the stroke mainly affected the right side of his body and his speech.

He spent two weeks in Morehead Memorial Hospital in Eden, N.C., for treatment until a blood clot was discovered on the outside of his right lung, she said.

"Bird," as he is called by many friends and customers at his shop, Big Bird's Big Twins & Leather in Ridgeway, then was transferred to Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, N.C., Paige Holcomb said.

There, surgeons removed the clot and stopped the bleeding, she said.

"Then, his heart got out of rhythm. They had to shock his heart back in rhythm," she said.

After his heart problems were addressed and he healed from the surgery, Holcomb started taking physical therapy at Moses Cone, Paige Holcomb said.

The "wonderful therapy" there cost $2,500 per day, she said. The cost was not covered by the couple's insurance.

All told, he spent 51�2 weeks in the hospital, his wife said.

He was released from the hospital on March 10, she said. A day later, he returned to work.

"This is the best therapy there is," Paige Holcomb said of his return to work. But, she added, "He's still got several months of therapy to go through."�

He currently travels to Morehead Memorial Hospital to undergo physical therapy as an outpatient, Paige Holcomb said.

Besides aftereffects of the stroke, Paige Holcomb said, both her husband's carotid arteries - which carry oxygen-rich blood to the head and neck - are blocked.

The Holcombs were told nothing could be done to address that concern, Paige Holcomb said.

"But we're going to try to get a second opinion. Right now, physical therapy and arteries are mainly what we're focusing on," she said.

Holcomb also has another list of goals, which includes expressing appreciation to those who have helped him.

He is both appreciative and surprised at the number of cards, letters and other well-wishes from friends, from as near as Rich Acres Elementary School - where students made cards for him - all the way to Connecticut, he said.

"I got balloons and some flowers" as well, he said. "I really appreciate all the thoughts and prayers."�

"He's a fighter, and he's determined to get back on his bike," Paige Holcomb said.

"My goal is to ride by the end of May," he said. That will give him plenty of time to prepare for the Toy Run in December.

One way or another, "I'll be there" for the Toy Run, Holcomb said.

Friends are planning a ride in Holcomb's honor beginning at 1 p.m. May 22.

There is no entry fee, but donations are welcome, according to Glenn Harding, an organizer.

Other details, including the route, will be announced at a later date.


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