Last year’s Memorial Ride for the Fallen was only supposed to be a one-time event. That is until organizers came face to face with B.C.’s silver cross families.
“I could not say no to the silver cross moms,” said Barry Drews, vice president of the 3rd CAV (Canadian Army Veterans) Ubique Unit, which organized the ride. “They told me they couldn’t wait until next year. I knew we had started something here, that we couldn’t just let it go.”
The second annual Memorial Ride for the Fallen is on June 11 starting at 11 a.m.
This ride is not going to be your typical hog show. Yes, there’s going to be motorbikes of all calibre screaming down the highway, and riders, who at first glance come off as being tough and gruff with their scruffy beards and leather chaps. But if you look closely enough, you’ll likely catch a glimpse of their super sized hearts.
“Do you know how many tears these solid men are going to shed on this ride?” asked Drews. “We’re going to grab your heart, rip it out and throw it to the ground. The emotions are so raw.”
How could they not be?
The Memorial Ride for the Fallen was organized as a way of honouring and paying respect to B.C. soldiers who have lost their lives (eight to date) and to show their families that their children, their siblings, their nieces and nephews will never be forgotten.
Hundreds of riders from all over B.C. will gather in Vancouver and ride their bikes down Highway 1, a portion of which has been renamed Highway of Heroes all the way to the Lickman Road exit where they will then proceed to the All Sappers Memorial Park at Vedder Road and Keith Wilson Road.
A memorial service will be held at the cenotaph to remember soldiers from B.C. who lost their lives fighting in Afghanistan. Silver cross families will be in attendance.
“This [ride] is about the moms and dads who don’t have their son or daughter anymore because they died serving their country,” said Drews. “It’s not political, it has nothing to do with that. It’s just the most simplistic form of respect.”
Last year the event attracted 500 riders and raised just shy of $10,000. This year, they hope to double that with 1,000 riders and $20,000 in donations.
Funds raised will go to the Military Family Resource Centre, a non-profit organization that provides information, supports and referrals for Canadian Forces families, and to the Honour House Society, also a non-profit organization located in New Westminster, which provides free, temporary accommodations for families of injured soldiers and first responders who are receiving care in the Metro Vancouver area.
This year, the CAV will also be raffling off a Canadian Forces Titan motorcycle that has been customized with images of Vimy Ridge, the second world war, Korean war and Afghanistan. It has soldiers painted on, images of barbed wire fences, the Canadian flag, and John McCrae’s infamous poem In Flanders’ Fields scripted on the front.
“It is an outstanding tribute to our troops,” said Drews. “Even if you’re not interested in riding, you want to have this bike in your place to just look at it. It’s awesome, it’s a piece of art, it’s unbelievable.”
The bike, donated by CAV member Kevin Richmond, is worth approximately $60,000. Raffle tickets are $50 each.
The Memorial Ride for the Fallen is on Saturday starting at 11 a.m. at the Hastings Community Centre parking lot at the corner of Hastings Street and Renfrew Street in Vancouver. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m.
The memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. And a reception will follow at the ASU.
Cost to participate is $20 per rider.
To pre-register go to www.honourhouse.ca.