|Balloon launch from Columbine H.S.|
This photo is of a balloon launch as they gently fly away after release from the parking lot at Columbine High School, Sunday, September 30, 2012. Each balloon represents one person killed in the United States to school violence. It is tear jerking. This number has to stop growing.
On September 27th, 2006 a gunman entered Platte Canyon High School in a small mountain community located in Bailey, Colorado, held seven girls hostage and ultimately shot and killed Emily Keyes. During the time she was held hostage, Emily sent her parents text messages... "I love you guys" and "I love u guys. k?"
Ten days after this tragedy a benefit ride was held. It was determined that the proceeds would go to the six hero students that were also held hostage in the classroom that day, along with Emily. To paraphrase Mr. Peter Boyles, who I had the immense pleasure of meeting yesterday in person and shaking his hand, as he is someone that I respect immensely - the first year of this event if we had gotten 500 bikes we would have been thrilled. We got 5000.
There was not a glitch of any kind that I experienced. We, my wife and I, were fortunate to ride together with three other riders as part of our own little group among the mass group, one being my wife's friend who rides her own Harley Road King. They have ridden in this event a few previous times. Excellent coffee provided by Starbucks was on hand to give that boost of energy and fill that desire for a down home "good" cup of coffee. Home made breads and bagels by Panera bread were on hand, breakfast burritos from McDonalds along with apple slices, bananas, as well as donuts, etc...
Awesome is the word that best describes this experience for me. Bikers from all over descended upon Columbine High School. Sadly, CHS is no stranger to senseless school violence. All with a common goal. This day there is no metric versus American V-twin. There are no "rice rocket" or "crotch rocket" comments. There is only community. All with a passion for motorcycling, community, country, and heart.
And talking about awesome. When the order to "fire 'em up" was given, to hear that roar of engines come alive, thousands of bikes simultaneously firing their engines readying to depart for the parade ride to Platte Canyon High School, oh man! Goose bumps is the word for the moment.
Rewarding to be one humble person among thousands sharing a common goal, care, and concern is putting it mild. To be fortunate enough to be able to donate some money and partake of this wonderful event as a show of solidarity for all of our communities, which in turn bestows true humility upon thyself in the face of those who have suffered enormous loss is, in my opinion, the reward to ones self. Humility is a much overlooked quality. Yet it is vital.
It is too sad to put in to words the feelings that I feel when such tragedies as we see all across our nation in the form of school violence happen. The senseless loss of life is has to stop. Young lives, not to mention. My God, what has happened to our society?
Terrific would be an understatement for the 45 mile ride which is primarily mountain canyon riding for the majority of the ride. It's majestic. The entire day, in lieu of the tragedy that sparked its inception, is truly epic. People of all race, creed, color, cycle of interest, and age come together as community. There were young children all the way up to old men. Veterans, high school kids, young and old alike. It was a beautiful day. It was a day for Colorado. It was a day for our kids. It truly was a day of roller coaster emotion.
|Final Destination. Platte Canyon H.S.|
I want to thank all of the volunteers, sponsors, and every one who worked very hard to make this possible. This was my first time attending. There are many who have been doing it all along. You can count me as one of them from now on. This is now a must go every year for me.
And if you aren't a biker, you can still help. Emily's parents have turned a tragic loss in to a learning experience to help educate others. While I do not personally know them John-Michael Keyes and Ellen Stoddard-Keyes are heroes. What strength and courage they have. God bless you guys.
Here is a link that someone posted to Youtube from balloon launch through take off.. I hope it gives a small insight to the scope of this event. This parking lot is full of bikes. Just full of 'em.