By Olivia Rizzo | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Sitting around a crowded kitchen table in Franklin Township, passing around plates filled with fried chicken and rice, the women that make up the She Wolves, an all-female motorcycling riding club, speak loudly, often over each other and with the familiarity you’d expect from friends that have known each other their entire lives.
But these women have only been together as an official organization for the last four years. The way She Wolves President Marilyn Weshnak puts it is that people are brought into your life for a reason.
For her, the reason was helping her through the grief of losing her twin brother Hymie, who had cerebral palsy and neuropathy, in 2014. Weshnak was her brother’s caretaker for the majority of their adult lives.
“I was lost and I was very angry and I couldn’t get past the anger and the pain,” Weshnak said, describing the first year without her brother by her side.
She has been riding motorcycles for years, using it as an outlet to relieve stress and get out of her own head, but it wasn’t until Weshnak and her cousin Jo-Ann Frontera met Lee Greaves at a local motorcycle event that the She Wolves began to form.
“Lee says it best in that Hymie died so that there could be room for me and he made room for every one of them,” Weshnak said. “Quite frankly without them I’d be dead today.”
The group now has nine members, who range in age from 31 to 72. They each call different parts of New Jersey, from Somerset to Ocean County, home and work in fields from nursing and financial advising to being a full-time mom.
They call each other sisters and they act like sisters. They support each other through good and bad times, and most importantly to them, they organize events that support the Matheny Medical and Education Center, which provides care to people with special needs and developmental disabilities.
“We give back. We’re all successful women and we give back. We’re all very humble. We’re all very grateful. We all understand our humanity,” Weshnack said.
Being an all-female group separates the She Wolves from other motorcycle organization, which are still predominantly male-only. They say it allows them to understand each other better than if there were men in the group. The only exception, however, is when the group goes out riding they have men ride alongside them for safety reasons, they said.
“Our main thing is supporting each other and in supporting each other and we’re supporting the cause because we all ride to try and support those that can’t, those that are disabled,” Greaves said.
Each week during the main riding season, from April through October, at least a few members take their bikes out to different charity events supporting causes such as a local food pantry or veterans organizations.
Riding gives the women a chance to clear their heads and an opportunity to simply focus on the ride and not on the little stresses of everyday life.
“Riding a bike takes a lot of attention. You need both feet with both hands and you need your head to be on straight. So there’s no time to be thinking about something else because accidents can happen very easily,” said Angie Keller, “So you go out and have a beautiful ride, you come home and you’re all relaxed.”
Looking toward the future, the She Wolves are hoping to expand their membership and are hoping to open chapters in other states in the upcoming years. And support Matheny’s Medical and Educational center in as many ways as possible.