The 2nd annual Boston Motorcycle Marathon Ride rolls out on Sunday and this year organizer Fred Georgoulis expects to nearly double the participation and the donations.
Initially started as a way to honor his wife, Denise, who was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago, and survived, Georgoulis jumped into fund-raising efforts annually thereafter and tried to out-do himself every time out. A motorcycle ride looked to be his biggest venture yet when in April 2013, the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the terrorist attacks in Boston added an unforeseen layer to the inaugural ride just four months away.
"Last year we rallied around the Boston Motorcycle Marathon Ride and sent a message. We love our country and we will not let anyone take it from us," Georgoulis said. "For those of us that rode in last year's BMMR, we will never forget that emotional feeling we all felt as we crossed over the finish line on Boylston Street."
Nearly 1,000 kickstands went up for that first ride as the Boston Motorcycle Marathon Ride raised nearly $21,000 for The Jimmy Fund, the fund-raising arm for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Massachusetts. A check was presented to Jimmy Fund officials at Fenway Park.
Georgoulis managed to incorporate the 26.2 miles of the actual Boston Marathon into the 65-mile ride as a way to honor those lost in the bombing attack. Additionally, he reached out to police departments and other law enforcement agencies and included a wreath laying ceremony at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to honor slain Officer Sean Collier of the MIT police department who was killed by one of the terrorists while he sat in his patrol car.
"What made me incorporate Sean Collier into the ride was having a son the same age as Sean who is also a police officer in Manchester N.H. It really touched home with me," Georgoulis said. "I read the obituary for Sean, it was very specific in lieu of flowers, 'Please make a donation to the Jimmy Fund in Sean's name' as it was his favorite charity, so I immediately thought how wonderful it would be to honor this hero who had made the ultimate sacrifice, it really tugged at my heartstrings."
Georgoulis went to MIT unannounced and tracked down one of Collier's superiors and shared the ride information and his idea to incorporate remembering Collier in a ceremony after the ride. After discussions with the Collier family the idea was unanimously embraced.
"That is when I learned what a wonderful bond there is with police officers," Georgoulis said. "Sean's family was extremely moved by the event and his sister joined us riding and many other family members attended the after-event just as they intend to do this year."
The 2014 route is a bit shorter and ends in Cambridge with an after-party rather than MIT. The ride still incorporates the 26.2 mile marathon route and the wreath laying ceremony honoring Collier.
"The ceremony will be at the beginning in Hopkington instead of at the end with full color guard and bagpipes," Georgoulis said. "This will be a very beautiful and emotional send-off."
Organizing the second annual ride did not come without some hiccups. The ride is a full time job for Georgoulis who has two helpers. About two months ago, he was asked to change the name so the Boston Marathon Motorcycle Ride from last year is now the Boston Motorcycle Marathon Ride which is important to note as the website, which includes registration details, has changed. However, Georgoulis is happy to say, the BMMR acronym still works.
"We truly had so many curveballs that it took divine intervention to make it happen this year," he said noting that many rides of this magnitude tend to have at least 20 staff or volunteers to make it happen.
Georgoulis expects 2,000 riders this year and hopes to raise $35,000 for The Jimmy Fund. Be sure to visit the updated Boston Motorcycle Marathon Ride website and the $35 registration is via the donation link. Kickstands are up at 11:30 a.m. (EST) Sunday at 5 Parkwood Dr. in Hopinkton, MA.
"Last year, riders no matter how big and burly, no matter how small and dainty, cried as they crossed over the finish line with thousands of people cheering them on from both sides of the street," Georgoulis said. "It's an emotion unlike anything you'll ever experience."