If you've never heard of the Motorcyclist Memorial located in Hopedale, you're probably not alone.
It was news to me as well until information about it crossed my desk in recent weeks, spurring an interest to know a little more.
In 1992 a few dedicated bikers conceived the idea of the Motorcyclist Memorial dedicated to brothers and sisters lost, a dream that slowly but surely came to fruition with the formation of the Motorcyclist Memorial Foundation.
Lynn Myers at the memorial
The foundation's initial focus was to raise money to have the memorial built, a goal that involved fundraisers, poker runs, dances and T-shirt sales. Help also came from several taverns that sold silhouettes of motorcycles that hung on the walls of their bars and from members of ABATE of Ohio Region 1, the Hopedale American Legion and others.
In a relatively short time, the money was raised, and work began in earnest.
Milligan Memorials of Coshocton was awarded the job of doing the etching and ordering the black stone "that stands so majestically on top of the shaded grassy knoll," according to the foundation's website at www.motorcyclistmemorial.com.
It notes that the monument is made of Indian black stone, the darkest of all marbles, and the inscription on the back side of the stone was written by Dan Waterfield of Oregon, Ohio, which is in Lucas County. Anne Milligan, meanwhile, etched the image of the man and woman riding their motorcycles on the winding road with an Eagle flying with them. Tim Milligan installed and etched on the gray pillars the names of the loved ones lost.
On July 23, 1993, the Motorcyclist Memorial, which is located at 48225 Rabbit Road, Hopedale, next to the Hopedale American Legion, was unveiled to the public, and every year since during Memorial Day weekend, the memorial is rededicated as more names are added to the granite pillars that flank each side of the monument.
This year marked the 20th anniversary for the rededication.
The names, by the way, are not limited to area residents and not necessarily people who died in motorcycle accidents. They could, for instance, just reflect individuals who enjoyed riding.
Every year since the first dedication, college scholarships are awarded to senior high school students who are furthering their education. Scholarships are given to the winners of the foundation's annual essay contest with $1,000 for first place, $750 for second place and $500 for third place. A $500 art scholarship recently was added.
To date, the contest is open to students from 59 high schools in 10 counties, and the winners are asked to read their essay and display their artwork at the yearly Memorial Day weekend rededication ceremony.
The memorial has undergone expansion through the years, including more granite pillars and a motorcycle that is made from the same black granite as the motherstone, according to the website. It credits Paul Jones of Jewett with the concept for the Walkway of Memories, the brick sidewalk that surrounds the memorial with engraved bricks..
So far, there are more than 700 names that are part of the overall memorial with more to be added for Labor Day. People interested in submitting a name for the wall or brick walkway can refer to applications on the website and also obtain applications in the gazebo at the memorial.
Both names for the wall and bricks for the walkway are installed twice a year - for the Memorial Day weekend and for the Labor Day weekend.
"In the true spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood, the Motorcyclist Memorial has always been and will always be cared for year-round by the Motorcyclist Memorial board members and will remain pure to keep alive the names and memories of those brothers and sisters who have gone before us," the website notes.
Members of the board, which meets monthly, include Brian Straka, chairman; Kenny Horner, vice chairman/scholarships; Carlene Horner, secretary/scholarships; Debra Jean Matoszkia, treasurer; Tom Bradley, name engravings; Paul Speaker, bricks; Scott VanKirk, maintenance; Annette Petrella, products; Coleena Groch, historian; and Johnny Groch and Gary Crawford, board members.
The board members are volunteers, and the foundation is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3).
Tax-deductible donations can be made payable to MMF and mailed to P.O. Box 2573, Wintersville, OH 43953. W-9s are available upon request.
While the foundation promotes and participates in area poker runs that benefit a variety of local causes, it also sponsors one poker run that specifically benefits the memorial.
That one will benefit the newly built Motorcyclist Memorial Foundation expansion and be held Saturday.
The poker run is $10 per person with sign-up from 10 a.m. to noon. The group ride to the first stop leaves from the memorial wall at noon.
The poker run will include food catered by Manfred's, a 50-50 drawing and trophies awarded to best hand, worst hand and longest rider. For information, call Coleena at (740) 278-6189.
For information on the foundation, visit the website or Facebook page.