Two years ago Fred Georgoulis wanted to honor his wife with a fund-raising motorcycle ride and help wipe out cancer.
In an unexpected and unfortunate twist of fate, the Boston Motorcycle Marathon Ride ballooned beyond his wildest expectations. In 2013, four months before the inaugural ride, the unspeakable fell upon Beantown when two terrorists made two pressure cooker bombs that went off near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon killing three people. A few days later Officer Sean Collier, 26, of the MIT Police Department was ambushed and killed by one of the fleeing terrorists.
Georgoulis made last minute changes to honor the fallen with his ride that raises money for the Jimmy Fund, a fund-raising non-profit organization for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Massachusetts and 1,000 riders turned out. Last year, the number doubled and this year the same number is expected. The third annual Boston Motorcycle Marathon Ride is August 9, 2015.
"I am not surprised that this ride has become so large so fast," said Georgoulis, who has since taken on planning and organizing the ride as a fulltime job. "This ride has affected everyone on some level, many on multiple levels. This year we are not only having a wreath laying ceremony for Officer Sean Collier but we are also having wreath laying ceremonies for the three victims killed on Marathon Monday."
Massachusetts residents Krystal Campbell, 29, and eight year-old Martin Richard, along with Lingo Lu, 23, of China were killed in the bombings at the finish line.
The 29-mile, police escorted, ride incorporates the 26.2 mile route of the Boston Marathon. It starts in Hopkington, MA with a wreath laying ceremony and ends with an after-party in Medford, MA. Georgoulis participates in the wreath ceremony and so will Chief Joseph Cafarelli, who tackled and handcuffed the terrorist found hiding in a boat. In April, two years after the bombing, that terrorist, who ran over and killed his co-conspirator brother during the ensuing manhunt after the bombings, was found guilty on 30 charges and sentenced to death.
"That created so much more interest, not only motorcycle people but the general public," Georgoulis said of Cafarelli's involvement."It's going to be a great ride and it's going to get a lot of press."
Georgoulis, who has laid a wreath every year, does so in part for Collier's family. Georgoulis' son is also a police officer and is about the same age as Collier would be today.
"It is the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life," he said. "I put myself in Sean's father's place. If someone killed my son I would hope someone out there would do this and do it with the respect he deserves."
If that's not enough, Georgoulis said his wife's breast cancer returned in February after 10 years of remission. Since then, she's had a mastectomy and last month resumed chemotherapy but is doing well. Last year the ride raised $23,000 for the Jimmy Fund, one of Collier's favorite charities, and Georgoulis hopes to raise even more this year.
"The only thing we have to pray for is the weather," he said. "We have a Jimmy Fund night in Lowell every Tuesday and all summer we've had rain eight out of 10 nights."
Registration cost for single riders in the Boston Motorcycle Marathon Ride is $35, and those with a passenger is $45. Donations are welcome. All proceeds benefit the Jimmy Fund. Register online or on the day of the ride between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. at 5 Parkwood Dr. in Hopkinton, MA. Kick stands up at 11:30 a.m. Rain out date is August 16.