The annual Hero’s Ride, which raised more than $220,000 for disabled veterans during its 13-year run, has ended.
But the emergence of a new fund-raising motorcycle ride will fill the void.
Stacy Wene, who organized Hero’s Ride with her parents, Bill and Marianne Meyer, and others, said, “It was time to end.”
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“We decided back in January that, for those who organized it, that it was kind of time to end on a good note,” said Wene. “It requires a lot of work, and a lot of people are involved. We had a really good run, and we wanted to see it go out on a high note before it kind of fizzled out.”
Hero’s Ride started in honor of Marine Lance Cpl. Taylor B. Prazynski, a Fairfield graduate who was killed in 2005 while conducting combat operations in Iraq.
The Hero’s Ride supported injured and wounded members of the military through Impact A Hero, which received more than $200,800. Last year’s ride supported 4 Paws for Ability, an area organization that provides injured veterans with service dogs, which received more than $20,000.
In its 13 years, the ride averaged 300 motorcycles with 600-plus bikes involved in the past few years. About 75 percent of those annual participants returned year after year, according to Wene.
“We’ve had a lot of good friends that rode forever; we’ve had a lot of friends that past away between that time,” Wene said.
Now comes Ride 4 Heroes, which is being co-organized by Prazynski’s father, John. The new event will eventually benefit police and fire first-responders as well as active military members and veterans, he said.
“We want to honor all heroes,” said Prazynski, who is organizing the event with the help of Fairfield Fire Chief Don Bennett and others. Their mission, he said, is to advance the work of Hero’s Ride.
“We want to honor them, we want to remember them, we want people to recognize that there are people out there every day that are there to help them,” Prazynski said. “We want to make sure people understand it and are as thankful as we are.”
There is no sign-up cost for this informal ride that will include a police escort and is alcohol-free.
Any money donated will support 4 Paws for Ability.
Staging for the ride begins at 11 a.m. Aug. 18, and motorcycles will depart at 1 p.m. from the Fairfield Community Arts Center at Village Green Park. Before and after the ride, Roc’s Grill & Bar, 500 Wessel Drive, will have food available for sale.
Fairfield Councilwoman Leslie Besl, who is the council’s community relations subcommittee chair, said while the founders have decided to end the Hero’s Ride, “it’s great that others have decided to step up and try to bring a similar event to fruition, and make sure it’s going to benefit a lot of people.”
The city had been involved in the ride’s organization in the past, and Besl said, “Anytime the city can be a part of doing something good for the benefit of others, I think it only helps us. I’m proud to be a part of Fairfield and it’s ability to do things like this and I hope it will continue.”