Jemez Riders Hold ‘Ride to the Springs’ Fundraiser For Wyatt Taylor Medical Expenses

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The Jemez Riders are holding their first annual motorcycle Ride to the Springs Saturday, Sept. 14. The event is a fundraiser for Wyatt Taylor, a La Cueva teen and junior firefighter who was seriously injured in a tragic accident in December 2017 which left him hospitalized for several months.

Two years later, Taylor still faces multiple surgeries and despite support from across the nation and around the world, his family faces an increasing sum of medical expenses.

Taylor was headed out on his ATV to feed the family’s horses at a remote pasture when the accident happened. He was riding on the side of the road when his ATV hit a rock causing him to lose control of the steering. The ATV rolled down over an embankment and a barbed wire fence and into a ditch. Thrown off the ATV, he ended up pinned underneath with his face forced against the a tire. The ATV was pinned into the engaged position which left the tire spinning relentlessly against his face.

Family members reported that Wyatt heard three cars go by before realizing that he was not in view of the road and that it was up to him to save himself. Somehow, he managed to free himself after the ATV engine stopped, hike up a hill and make his way a quarter of a mile to the closest house.

Wyatt sustained full-thickness burns down to the bone on the right side of his face from the top of his head to his jawline, with major damage to his right eye and the right side of his nose as well as full-thickness burns to his left hand and arm.

Then a few months ago, Richard Sturgeon started thinking that Los Alamos doesn’t have a motorcycle toy run like other communities in the area. Sturgeon is chair of the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Motorcycle Safety Committee and organizer of the ride.

“I thought, wouldn’t it be fun for all the motorcyclists here to get together and have an event that’s for our community. From that it grew into why don’t we do a ride that benefits somebody specific that really needs our help,” he told the Los Alamos Reporter.  “I had heard about Wyatt at church around the time of the accident and when we were thinking about someone specific that could use our help, Wyatt came mind.”

Sturgeon reached out to the Taylor family who have strong ties to Los Alamos and the surrounding area. Wyatt is a junior firefighter with the all-volunteer La Cueva Fire Department where his father, Lee, is the chief and has been volunteering for more than 23 years. His mother, Michelle is an EMT with the Albuquerque Ambulance Service and volunteer EMS captain for the La Cueva Fire Department.

Lee and Michelle both from Los Alamos High School. Lee drives the Jemez route for Fed-Ex in addition to his fire department duties. Wyatt’s grandparents Ginny and Gerry Taylor and Tom and Elaine Brunton live in Los Alamos and both grandfathers retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Wyatt has three grown sisters, Courtney, Vanessa and Kirsten.

Sturgeon said when he reached out to the family, they immediately responded.

“We got together and told them what our idea was. At that point it was just an idea. What really made us start working hard was how humble they were and how amazed they were that we wanted to put this event on for them,” he said.

Sturgeon said Wyatt Taylor is an amazing young man.

“He gives you that handshake and it’s like a vice grip on you. He is so resilient – talking to him, you wouldn’t think that anything had happened to him. People tell me they don’t think they could have done it, that they would have given up. Thirty minutes is such a long time – thinking I have to do what I have to do to survive. He waited it out, walked to safety and continues on. He doesn’t talk about it. He just gives you a very hearty handshake,” Sturgeon said.

Ride to the Springs participants will gather Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus in Los Alamos where raffle tickets and T-shirts will be sold. Kickstands up will be at 11 a.m. and the motorcycles will head down the Main Hill Road and into White Rock, through the Bandelier Loop and on up through the Jemez to Jemez Springs for an expected 12:30 p.m. arrival. There is no cost to participate in the ride, however donations will be gratefully accepted from riders and others before the event and throughout the day.

Wyatt Triumph Tiger .jpgA 1999 Triumph Tiger motorcycle which will be raffled as part of a fundraiser for Wyatt Taylor and his family. Courtesy photo

The group will then gather at Madonna Hall for a chili challenge and live music – open to all, not just riders. The big fundraising focus of the event will be the raffle.

“Anybody can win and you don’t have to be there to win. The grand prize is a 1999 Triumph Tiger motorcycle donated by a Jemez Springs resident. Tickets are $10 each and if you don’t win the motorcycle, there are about 100 other prizes donated by businesses and individuals from Santa Fe, Los Alamos and throughout the area,” Sturgeon said. “We will Start calling the numbers at 2 p.m. at Madonna Hall and the grand prize ticket will be drawn at 2:30 p.m. even if we haven’t call all the other prizes.”

The group is also selling T-shirts with their signature logo which says “No muerto”. Sturgeon said he has been told it means “no death or no die” but to the Jemez Riders it means “don’t kill us”.

Sturgeon said the Jemez Riders originated in 2015 after he was asked to start a motorcycle safety committee at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Through the safety awareness program it was decided to call the group the Jemez Riders.

“It really took off and we now have about 430 LANL employees involved and we do some big group rides. We decided we should start doing some community service so we’ve adopted a couple of sections of the highway. We took on the entire interchange at NM502 and NM4  which hadn’t been cleaned up for a long time and we also adopted the first mile stretch of the Main Hill Road from the intersection to Anderson Lookout,” he said.

Sturgeon said there are a lot of motorcyclists in Los Alamos County and that the Jemez Riders thought the ride would be a great way to get together, support community involvement and thank Los Alamos County residents for the way the drive around motorcyclists.

“We all have times when a car cuts us off or somebody in front of us brakes hard, but as a whole, Los Alamos County is a very good county in which to ride a motorcycle,” he said.

Start calling the numbers at 2 p.m. at Madonna Hall and the grand prize at 2:30 p.m. even if we haven’t call all the others.

For more information or to purchase tickets/shirts, email Sturgeon at or The phone number to call is 505.412.2616.

IMG_3744.jpgRichard Sturgeon is chair of the Los Alamos National Laboratory motorcycle safety awareness committee and organizer of the Jemez Riders group’s Ride to the Springs, a fundraiser for La Cueva teen Wyatt Taylor.  Photo by Maire O’Neill/