Forty-nine bikes with 93 Patriot Guard Riders toured the village streets of Baldwinsville Aug. 9 during a 60-mile memorial bike run for their friend, Douglas Michael West (known as Mike/Mohawk). West died last year on May 29 in a bike accident. Saturday would have been his 60th birthday.
West, of Baldwinsville, was a Marine and a proud Patriot Guard Rider (PGR), said his daughter Erin Gay, who coordinated the bike-run and barbecue that followed at JP Tavern in Baldwinsville. PGR is a 100 percent volunteer, national non-profit organization whose mission is to attend, as invited guests, memorial services of fallen military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged veterans. Riders show their respect at these services while simultaneously shielding the family and friends from interruptions created by individual or group protestors through legal and nonviolent means.
"I am not part of the PGR, but my daughter and I are very thankful for all they have done for us in the past year and all they do for everyone else," Gay said.
Her father's friends, Patty and Dennis Ruda, of Hamburg, escorted West's ashes for a final ride before being laid to rest later this year.
Going forward, the event, "60 For 60," will be renamed "60 For 60, The Mohawk Run."
"Each new year a different family will be honored by having the bike run done in their family members memory," Gay said. "It will have the same meaning, but my family and I would like other families to know their losses are never forgotten."
Event proceeds will go to PGR and Help on the Homefront (HOTH), a volunteer outreach group that provides support to veterans, families of deployed service members and Gold Star families. One hundred percent of funds designated for the HOTH program go directly to the individuals and families it helps.
Those interested in making a donation can write checks out to Patriot Guard Riders N.Y. and mail to Patriot Guard Riders N.Y., P.O. Box 107, Williamson, N.Y. 14589.