Officer Down Memorial Ride Exceeds Fundraising Goal

| May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments | Community

Organizer Meg Hawkins stands by the sign thanking the ODMR Sponsors.

Hundreds of people around the region celebrated and participated in the 7th annual Officer Down Memorial Ride (ODMR) event, held at outside the Lion & Bull restaurant in Merchant View Square, Haymarket, Saturday, April 28, 2018.

The ride and surrounding festivities raised more than $57,000 for families of fallen officers, exceeding its goal of $50,000. 

The Officer Down Memorial Ride is a 60-mile motorcycle ride through the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. The event raises money for the Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), a national non-profit that honors the memories and sacrifices of the law enforcement officers and provides money for their families.

In addition to the ride, the surrounding ODMR event, catered by Lion & Bull, featured live music, food, raffles, and a motor unit demonstration by a local police departments. 

Meg Hawkins was the lead organizer of this year’s ODMR event. Halfway through the day’s events, she was still wearing her headset to communicate with volunteers. At that point, Hawkins believed they had reached their $50,000 fundraising goal. Twenty-five thousand came from pre-registration. The rest from morning registrations, individual donations and the gun raffle.

She said the good weather helped. Last year was rainy, but they still managed to raise $44,000. This year, they had more than 800 registered riders. People from all over region came out to support first responders, families of fallen officers, and to engage in the comradery that often exists among motorcyclists.

Attendees included people of all ages, many wearing leather motorcycle vests. Cyclists and first responders alike brought along friends or family. 

Around noon, onlookers stood near the median, watching the police motorcycle rodeo. Police and sheriff officers on motorcycles chased each other, looping around orange traffic cones. Prince William Police were making it through the obstacle course with ease.

One of the on-lookers, Kevin Fortney of Warrenton, said he rides motorcycles.

“We all have that in common. We’re all riders,” he said, explaining that motorcycle riding becomes more than just a hobby, it builds friendships. “We just ran into each other. I used to go out with his sister,” said Fortney said, pointing towards Matt McCormack of Gainesville.

“I just bought a motorcycle,” said Fortney, explaining he and looks forward to riding weather. 

Tracy Smith stood near the vendor tents, where people sold patches, noise-cancelling ear buds and wood-crafted American flags. He had a line of duty death in his family, Deputy Sheriff Rick Rhyne of Moore, North Carolina, which brings him out to the event every year. 

“This is our seventh year,” he said. “I’ve volunteered for six.” 

Allison Jenkins of Ashburn was one of several female riders. She and her crew recently road to Alaska on their bikes. She said it was once in a lifetime adventure and she got t to see bears, elk and wolves along the way. However, in addition to sharing motorcycle culture, she came out last Saturday to support military, police, fire fighters, veterans, and fallen officers.

Many attendees had similar stories. They love motorcycles and also have the utmost respect for police, military and first responders. 

“We’re just here for the free lunch,” joked Joe Tierney, President of Chapter Three of Hogs & Heroes, a nonprofit organization that supports U.S. Military, public safety, wounded warriors and EMTs.

“Today we’re out here supporting our chapter’s Sheepdogs Foundation and to raise money for public organizations in line with our mission,” said Nat Evans of Ashburn. “[I am here] every year. I’m with my brothers and sisters. Anything to support the mission, which is public safety and the military.”

Catching up with Hawkins after the event, she was happy to report they raised more than $57,400 for charity and had a terrific turnout. She invites more people to attend next year.

© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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