Motorcyclists honor friends, support charity
The 17th Annual Rick Graham Memorial Ride roared into the Onset VFW on Sunday as nearly 300 bikers finished the route that began at a Boston firehouse.
The event was started to honor Rick Graham, a Boston firefighter who died from a diabetes attack while he was on a ride with some friends. David Hayes, a friend of Graham’s, said the ride started small, as friends retraced Graham’s last ride. The event has grown over the years, both in the number of participants and in the number of fallen riders the event honors.
One of those honored is Rich Graham, Jr., who was Rick Graham’s son. Rick Graham had planned to give his bike to his son, but passed away before he had the chance to do so. Rich Graham, Jr., put himself through college after his father’s death, and then joined a club and helped organize the ride for several years before he passed away from Leukemia. The ride now supports a scholarship in his name at Boston College.
“When we brought the event down here, guys opened their hearts and wallets and supported us,” Hayes said.
Fitzgerald Allen, better known as Fitz, is the chairman of the event and one of the founders.
“He was the beginning of something that was supposed to start,” Fitz said of Rick Graham. Fitz said that at funerals, people always say they should get together to remember loved ones.
“We wanted to remember all of the bikers, going back to the 60s and 70s and keep everybody alive,” said Fitz.
The event draws bikers from across New England, and is escorted by fire engines from each town the ride passes through.
“It just has a lot of spiritual and emotional energy,” Fitz said. “This is like a homecoming reunion.”