Annual Hero’s Ride in Fairfield gets new charitable partner

Bikes wait for their riders before the start of the 2013 Hero’s Ride in Fairfield. Between 500 and 600 motorcycles are expected to participate in this year’s ride on Aug. 19. FILE PHOTO/2013

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Bikes wait for their riders before the start of the 2013 Hero’s Ride in Fairfield. Between 500 and 600 motorcycles are expected to participate in this year’s ride on Aug. 19. FILE PHOTO/2013

For the past several years, 26 names were on the back of the official Hero’s Ride T-shirt.

This year, for the 13th annual motorcycle ride, organizers solemnly added a 27th name: Army SSG Vernon Riley, of Harrison, who died on Oct. 2, 2016, in Germany.

“Unfortunately we added a name this year,” said Bill Meyer, an organizer for the event. “We’ll never be able to forget these guys.”

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The annual August ride starts at Village Green Park on Wessel Drive in Fairfield, travels 35 miles to Hueston Woods in Oxford for a brief stop before returning back to Fairfield. The Hero’s Ride supports injured and wounded members of the military and is in memory of local military personnel killed in action.

The idea for the Hero's Ride was formed following the death of Marine Lance Cpl. Taylor B. Prazynski, a Fairfield graduate who was killed on May 9. 2005 while conducting combat operations in Iraq.

Prazynski was the first of three from Fairfield who died in 2005 after being injured while serving the country. Army PFC Timothy J. Hines died on July 14, 2005, and Marine Lance Cpl. Michael J. Cifuentes died on Aug. 3, 2005. Both were killed in improvised explosive device attacks.

Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller said the annual ride is “incredible.”

“It’s very impressive to watch 500, 600 motorcycles head out from Village Green and head up to Oxford and back,” said the mayor, who rode in the ride two years ago. “It was one heck of a great experience, a great safe ride.”

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As the years pass, Stacy Wene, Meyer’s daughter and fellow event organizer, say it’s important to make sure to keep these members of the military killed in action at the top of everyone’s mind.

“It’s not been as top-of-mind that it used to be and we’re still trying to keep that top-of-mind awareness,” Wene said. “We do this just to keep everybody aware of the sacrifices made in the community and the families who are picking up the pieces.”

This year the Hero's Ride has switched local charitable sponsors. All proceeds from the ride will go to The Battle Buddy Foundation, an organization out of West Chester Twp. It also has a presence in California. Battle Buddies provides a service dog at no cost to veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury or a physical limitation for post-service reintegration.

“Our goal is to keep the money we raise local,” sad Wene. “That’s always been our main thing. We want to keep it in the community.”

During the day, the city of Fairfield also presents the annual Honor & Remember Music Festival at Village Green Park. The concert is free and features local and regional bands on Aug. 18 and 19. All proceeds supports the Honor & Remember organization, which presents a specialized and personalized flag to every family who’s lost a loved one due to their military service.

To sign up, visit www.shop.herosride.com. Registration is $25 per bike and $5 per passenger

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