Motorcycle Community Wraps its Loving Arms Around Rainbow Hospice Patient

Rainbow Community Care Team
May 9, 2024 / 5 mins read

Motorcycle Community Wraps its Loving Arms Around Rainbow Hospice Patient

by Kenyon Kemnitz


Ardis Voss with her husband, Don.

Don Voss and his wife Ardis were always ready for a ride. It was their unwavering love for motorcycles and each other that helped their romance develop on the open road and blossom into 43 years of marriage.

“Don was 16 when he got his first motorcycle, and I always dated guys who had motorcycles,” said Ardis Voss. “My niece was going out with his little brother, and I had just gotten my license and took her over to see him. Don was there, and we went out ever since.”

In 2014, not long after purchasing their first Can-Am Spyder, Don and Ardis went to buy a trailer for their motorcycle from Rob’s Performance Motorsports in Johnson Creek.


What they discovered was Rob’s was more than a one-stop shop. They were invited to join Rob’s SOAR Group, for Spyder Owners and Ryders of the unique three-wheeled motorcycle.

SOAR members take day-long or overnight rides on the third Saturday of every month from March through October and travel throughout Wisconsin or other neighboring states. Each time, a different person or couple maps out a group ride to a specific destination where they have lunch or dinner to culminate the road trip, along with a quick stop for everyone’s favorite - getting ice cream.


“We have people as far north as Green Bay and Cross Plains and down into Illinois, and whoever is leading the ride usually maps something out in their area,” Voss said. “But that’s a biggie with SOAR. You have to stop for ice cream.”


Ardis and Don pose for a picture with some members of the SOAR group outside Gessert's in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Some memorable rides have led Don and Ardis to the EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh and the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom. There are hundreds of riders in the SOAR group, but different people show up for rides each time. There is no time commitment. You ride when it fits into your schedule. Anywhere from 30 to 60 bikes make up each monthly ride.

SOAR gave Don and Ardis an outlet to meet other motorcycle enthusiasts who shared their passion and excitement for riding and doing something they love. With the sky overhead and the road at their feet, every ride was an exhilarating adventure.


“We always enjoyed the 360-degree view that riding on a motorcycle gives you along with the beautiful scenery, and being together was important to us,” Voss said. “Those were our date nights.”

They were warmly welcomed into SOAR and ended up making many genuine connections and meaningful friendships.


Don and Ardis joined the SOAR group for a ride up to the EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh.

“There’s a camaraderie with all the other people in the group,” Voss said. “We’ve been to different people’s homes and been invited for various occasions. They are just like family now.”

Last August, Ardis and Don were approaching their tenth anniversary as SOAR members when she started to notice some changes in her husband. Don wasn’t his normal self. He had always been healthy, but started getting more forgetful and was suffering from terrible headaches.

"He was always sharp as a tack, and suddenly he couldn’t remember things,” Voss said.

Ardis knew something was wrong when Don went out for a motorcycle ride with a friend one October weekend and couldn’t find his way home.

“We had Life360 on his phone and were able to track his location,” Voss said. “I was checking on him, and he went past his turnoffs twice. I called 911 and police officers zeroed in on him and brought him home.”

A few days later, Don went to the doctor, and a CT scan confirmed he had malignant brain tumors. At the end of October, he had surgery to remove the tumors and then started radiation for 40 days.

The Voss family remained hopeful that Don’s cancer was now under control and that he would get better.

Doctors did what they could, but following a month of treatments, an MRI revealed that the tumors had spread to other parts of Don’s brain.

“We found out the part we treated was clear, but the rest of the brain was full of tumors and much larger than the ones they had removed,” Voss said.

After conversations with Don’s doctors, the Voss family discovered Rainbow Community Care was more than willing to come to their Hartford home. Don started receiving Rainbow’s home hospice care services in February. Ardis was impressed with the extraordinary care Don received from his nurse case manager, Kate Trapp, and social worker, Catie Hunter, and how they made the family feel special every time they came for a visit.

“They became like family too,” Voss said. “We were bombarded with people showing up and they pitched in and helped take care of everything, even the grandbabies.”

Kate and Catie forged an immediate bond with the Voss family as they helped Don navigate his end-of-life journey.

“Don’s family became special to me right off the bat,” Hunter said. “When I first entered their home, Don’s daughter, Kelly, introduced us to her two twin girls and they became a highlight every time I visited. We would sit around the kitchen table to look at family photos and talk about funny memories of Don. Usually, Kate and I would each be holding a baby to give Kelly and Ardis a break.”

The Voss family did their best to handle the shock of the news and how quickly the tumors were progressing.

“We spent as much time as we could together,” Voss said. “After we found out Don wasn’t going to make it, he only had like a week and a half where he could get around with a walker and then was put into a bed. You could see him going downhill very quickly.”

When SOAR found out about Don’s diagnosis, they didn’t hesitate to step up. SOAR hosts several fundraising events and safety presentations throughout the year that benefit the Road Warrior Foundation and other charitable causes, including food drives for the Johnson Creek Food Pantry.

During the group’s holiday party, a silent auction and 50/50 raffle raised around $3,800 in honor of Don. SOAR then donated all the money to the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA).

“Don and Ardis are just genuine, super caring people,” said Kory Keller, Rob’s Business Office Manager, who planned the event. “Shortly before Don was diagnosed, they led a ride, bought all the meat, cooked all the food, and had everybody over to their house. That’s the kind of people they are.”

Even though Don’s health was declining rapidly, and he was in a great deal of pain, he had enough strength to attend SOAR’s annual Christmas party at Rob’s in December. That meant a lot to him and everyone who got the chance to know him.

“When people had conflict in their lives, Don was always there to help them out and guide them,” Voss said. “He always had words of encouragement for everybody and was an encouragement on his own.”

It would have been understandable for Don to be angry or feel like he was being cheated or robbed of his life. He knew he was leaving behind a wife, his son, Michael, his daughter Kelly Jo, and four granddaughters. But Don could make peace with end-of-life thanks to his strong faith in God and the love of family and friends. Even if he didn’t know it, he inspired many members of his SOAR family by the way he lived his life.

“I’ve never met someone whose faith was such a positive influence,” Keller said. “Don said in one of his texts, ‘Please don’t pray for me but for my family because I know they’ll be sad when I’m gone.’ It still makes me emotional because I was so happy their whole family had the kind of faith that enabled them to get through something like this.”

“He always said ‘I’m going to get to go home soon.’ Voss shared. “He was looking forward to being with God and dreamt about Jesus coming and taking his hand.”

Keller and SOAR organized another benefit to honor Don on March 9th and give him a chance to say a final goodbye to his SOAR friends.

But Don passed away on March 1, 2024, at his home in Hartford at age 69. He missed the benefit by a week, but his family thinks he would have been thrilled with the turnout. Over 80 people, including Rainbow’s Catie Hunter, showed up to share their memories of Don and gathered for a nice meal.


“Rob’s parking lot was overflowing with people, and it was standing room only,” Hunter said. “Don’s family felt like a branch of my own family. Our connection was natural, and there wasn’t necessarily a reason that brought us so close. At the memorial, every family member I met while caring for Don recognized me, gave me hugs, waved, or said hi and thanked me for coming.”


All the money raised from the second benefit also went to the ABTA. Ardis then decided to turn over all of Don’s leftover medical supplies to Catie, who passed them on to Church Health Services in Beaver Dam, a Christian-based healthcare organization that provides dental, mental health, and medical services for low-income adults and children who are uninsured, and underinsured, so somebody else could make use of them.

The pain of losing Don and not having the love of her life by her side has no doubt been tough on Ardis. It will be even harder when she takes that first ride on their motorcycle without him.


But knowing her family has the love, support, and generosity from the SOAR community has meant the world to her.

“They’ve been calling almost every day and checking in on how we’re doing,” Voss said. “SOAR has been out and shoveled my driveway, and they’re helping me find somebody who can take care of my lawn for me. They’re all interested in our well-being and take great care of us.”

(Photos of Don and Ardis are courtesy of the Spyder Owners and Ryders)