Just two short years ago, Joey Parker, an EBCI tribal member, left a multitude of friends in Cherokee and throughout the Southeast on his final journey. As Mayor of the River Valley Campground, member of the Cherokee Baptist Church, and the best friend the elk roaming the Oconaluftee River Valley will ever have, Joey will always be remembered by the smile on his face and his enthusiasm for every day of his life.
Because Joey absolutely loved to ride the UTV’s and to further his memory, his sisters Myra and Kym instituted a “Memorial Ride” in April 2017 which involved 138 SxS’s, ATV’s, UTV’s, and dirt bikes with some 230 riders who spent four hours on approximately 20 miles of backcountry trails on the Qualla Boundary.
The group assembled at the old Cherokee High School grounds on Acquoni Road, paid fees, and headed out with the assistance of the Cherokee Police Department, Cherokee Fire Department, Cherokee EMS, and EBCI Natural Resource Enforcement officers as well as many of Joey’s family and friends. They returned to the River Valley Campground for lunch and prizes.
Several thousand dollars was raised with the first effort with proceeds going primarily to the Special Education Program of the Cherokee Central Schools. The staff has purchased instructional materials and provided life skills experiences for the students. Also, they are working on plans for an alternative playground for physically-disabled students on campus which will be dedicated to Joey. Funds were also donated to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Great Smoky Mountains Chapter’s annual fund-raising banquet to help with the GSMNP Re-introduction of Elk Project and other conservation projects.
The 2nd Joey Parker Memorial Ride is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, and if you would like to participate or to get more information, please go to www.joeyparkermemorial.com.
– Family of Joey Parker