When retired Worcester firefighter Paul Brosnihan helped organize the first Ride for Heroes in 1999, he didn’t imagine they would still be riding in 2013. “It was originally designed to support the families of the fallen Worcester Firefighters” he said, referring to the December 3, 1999 Worcester Cold Storage tragedy.
The first four years, the event was based at Sh’Booms, then located in downtown Worcester. As talk turned to ending the ride once the mission of supporting the Worcester Firefighters Memorial Fund had been fulfilled, Brosnihan decided it was worth keeping the Ride alive.
in 2003 the Ride for Heroes found a new home and a renewed mission. “I owned Halligans at the time, so I moved here and continued the event ever since” said Brosnihan. Since that time, Ride for Heroes has raised money that has gone to benefit the Worcester Firefighters Memorial Fund, the Special Olympics, and dozens of other charities.
This years ride participation was dampened by the rain overnight Saturday and the dreary start to Sunday. But the weather and reduced numbers did not dampen the enthusiasm. By the time the riders pulled out about 11am, the sun was shining in a glorious blue sky with temperatures in the 60s. Before heading out, riders were treated to a breakfast buffet donated by Mario’s in Webster.
“We usually get nearly 300 riders. We have about 150 or 160 today” said Brosnihan. “We usually see groups, one group of firefighters comes down from New Hampshire.”
Peter Hawley, the Road Captain for Undivided Motorcycle Club, was manning the registration table. While Brosnihan organizes the event, Undivided steps in to handle logistics of the ride. “We lay out the ride, organize the stops on the ride and handle registration. We have 2 guys at each stop to hand out cards [playing cards for the poker run component of the event] and to meet the riders.” Undivided sponsors several rides throughout the year to benefit various causes and charities.
Worcester County Motorcyclists’ Survivors Fund, one of the organizations that benefits from the Ride for Heroes, had a table set up in the Halligan’s bar area. Deborah Ceccarini explained that the Fund was started about 10 years ago on the North Shore by a group that had lost friends in motorcycle accidents. The Fund aims to provide any type of assistance that is needed by families of motorcyclists who are killed or seriously injured in a motorcycle accident.
“I got involved after my husband Brian was killed in an accident in October 2007” Ceccarini said. “Someone told me about this group, and I called them and the next thing I knew they were at my house asking what they could do for us.” The Worcester County Motorcyclists Survivors Fund not only purchased a headstone for the family, a group of volunteers from the organization even installed it. Deborah Ceccarini has been involved with the Fund ever since.
“We just try to get the word out. That we are here to help anyone who suffers a loss from a motorcycle accident. We help with funeral expenses, living expenses, medical bills, and emotional support. We do whatever we can do for the victims and their families. ” The organization also works to promote motorcycle safety and awareness.
Once the riders began to return from the ride around 2pm, an impressive buffet and entertainment by DJ Bucky Sheehan awaited. “Bucky has been DJ-ing our event for free since the beginning” said Brosnihan. With food, music and door prizes ready to go, riders were looking forard to a relaxing afternoon and evening. “This is a great ride and a great event for a great cause” said one returning rider whose name this reporter failed to transcribe properly. But I couldn’t agree more.