Riders hit the streets for benefit

Posted Monday, Apr. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Cyclists are a common sight in Parker County. But on Saturday, more than 1,100 riders made their way along marked routes through the county to raise money for area fire departments and other organizations.

The 11th annual Ride for Heroes, chiefly sponsored by Moritz Chevrolet in Fort Worth, started and finished at Aledo High School. After a cool early morning, the weather warmed although strong winds caused some riders to change their minds as to how far they rode.

“It was fun,” Casey Gartner of Fort Worth said. “It was tiring.”

The ride included routes eight, 23, 35, 44, 64 and 75 miles long that took participants through six area communities from Annetta to Weatherford and well north of Interstate 20.

Along the route, 30 members of the Christian Motorcycle Association stationed themselves to be available for any riders that need assistance. The local fire departments also were on hand.

The presence of the fire departments came in handy when early in the ride one cyclist was injured and taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Denny Thompson, president of the event’s board, said this year they had 200 volunteers from the fire departments as well as local churches and others from around the area.

Thompson said even younger residents helped out. Early in the week, he said an eighth-grade girl emailed him saying she wanted to help with the event and brought cookies for the riders and volunteers.

Youth and children also took part in the ride, some riding and others being given rides in carriers pulled by their parents.

“A lot of families come out for this,” Thompson said.

Not just people from the area, but riders from across the state and even out of state participated.

Friends Mary Davis of Houston and Carolyn Watts of Indiana took part in the 23-mile route of the ride. Both said they were pleased with the nice weather and glad to support the event’s cause.

Terry Mclaughlin of Arlington said she was surprised by the many hills on the route but that she loved the beautiful scenery, despite the cool and strong wind.

“It’s still a beautiful day for a ride,” Mclaughlin said.

Mclaughlin said the terrain was good for all levels of riders, whether beginners or experts.

The Willow Park, Aledo and Hudson Oaks fire departments and the Sheriff’s office helped run much of the event – preparing the free lunch, marking the routes and providing security at some intersections.

Willow Park Fire Chief Brent Sauble said he was pleased with the large turnout showing support to the departments.

Sauble and Aledo Fire Chief Morris Leonder both expressed gratitude to all the people supporting their departments. Sauble said last year each department received about $11,000.

“We all work together and we all benefit,” Sauble said of the event. “It’s a big part of our revenue.”

Thompon said benefits are important because “all of these departments struggle and this gives them money for equipment and training.”

Leonder said tragedies like last week in West showed the importance of events such as this that support the volunteer fire departments

“It focuses their attention,” Leonder said.

While addressing the riders before the ride, Sauble said that they should ride not just to support local departments but also in honor of the firefighters in the small town of West, where some lost their lives because of the plant explosion.

“We hadn’t had a multi-firefighter tragedy this close to home in a long time,” Sauble said.

Riders including Gartner, Mclaughlin and others said they were glad to support their own local firefighters by riding on their behalf.

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