MINNEAPOLIS -- This is Will Tucker's first Mother's Day without his mom.

Julie Gray died in March at 53 years old, after battling a rare lung disease called Acute Interstitial Pneumonitis (AIP). Tucker said she was completely healthy five weeks before her death.

"It's amazing how fast and rapid it acts and I don't mean to scare anybody. I just want to raise awareness," Tucker said. "The doctors, when I asked if I could donate her lungs for research, told me that more or less it would be pointless because nobody's doing any research on it. They didn't know where it comes from, there is no treatment and there is no cure right now."

Julie Gray died in March at age 53 after battling a rare lung disease. (Photo courtesy: Will Tucker)
Julie Gray died in March at age 53 after battling a rare lung disease. (Photo courtesy: Will Tucker)

In honor of his mom, Tucker decided to raise awareness for interstitial lung diseases while raising money for the American Lung Association.

He had never sat on a motorcycle in his entire life. Yet he decided to buy a 1981 Honda GoldWing GL1100 with a Vetter sidecar. The plan was to ride it with his dog, McKenzie, in the sidecar from his place in Minneapolis to his hometown of Crofton, Maryland to spend Mother's Day with his family.

"My mom despised motorcycles and if there was any way that would be right for our relationship, it would be to get back home with McKenzie in a way that would piss her off as much as I possibly could," Tucker said.

Tucker called the road trip, "Breathe for Mom: A Mother's Day Ride."

Will Tucker and McKenzie left Minneapolis on May 5 and arrived in Crofton, Maryland about a week later. (Photo courtesy: Will Tucker)
Will Tucker and McKenzie left Minneapolis on May 5 and arrived in Crofton, Maryland about a week later. (Photo courtesy: Will Tucker)

The pair took off from Minneapolis on May 5 and traveled through Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio before arriving in Maryland on Friday.

He spent Mother's Day with his brother and stepdad. Gray just remarried a year and a half ago.

"It's amazing how many people just kind of come out of left field, that you never even thought you would ever speak to again, that have just been so supportive," Tucker said.

As of Sunday night he's raised, through his Facebook fundraiser, nearly $11,000 with a goal of raising $15,000. Tucker said every cent will go to the American Lung Association.

Tucker said, "You can either try or not try once something like this happens and deciding to try is what my mom would've wanted me to do."