Firefighters hold a special place in Walter Keith’s heart.
The former firefighter, who hung up his bunker gear last January, didn’t waste any time when asked if he would help with a charity ride for the families of the Charleston 9.
Keith’s restaurant, Kelly’s Tavern in Springfield, will be the third stop for a poker run Saturday staged by the Red Knights Motorcycle Club. The Charleston 9 are the nine firefighters killed in a fire at a Charleston, S.C., furniture store in June.
“They thought it would be a good stop,” Keith said of the Red Knights. “My heart goes out to the firefighters and their families.”
Keith also said he has four close friends on the Charleston Fire Department and he spent several days after 9/11 helping at the site of the leveled World Trade Center towers and with Brooklyn’s Station 226.
Many of the Red Knights are firefighters, Keith believes, and some of them have been into his establishment and noticed the firefighter memorabilia he has on the walls.
The bikers, about 200, are expected to arrive at Kelly’s between 1:30 and 2 Saturday afternoon. Keith will have dinners to go for them and the entire proceeds of the dinners — $5 each — will go to the families of the Charleston 9.
“It should be pretty good,” he said. “Whatever money is made will go right to the families. I’m hoping the town and the area comes out and supports them. It’s a good reason. Stop by and get something to eat or give a donation.”
Keith said the Springfield and Effingham County fire departments are expected to be there to help out.
The poker run
Sign in for the Bikers for the Charleston 9 will be at Action Power Sports on Skidaway Road in Savannah. Bikes will roll out at noon and the last bike will be in at 4 p.m. at Coach’s Corner on Highway 80.
On the web: www.myspace.com/bikersforcharleston9