Sep 29, 2012

Ride for Justice from St Paul through Burlington to Cheshire - Google Maps

Ride for Justice from St Paul through Burlington to Cheshire Map

The "RIDE FOR JUSTICE" is upon us once again!
The event has become annual but originated in 2010 when two close friends of  William Petit Jr came up with an idea for a Motorcycle Rally Fundraiser in order to raise money for the Petit Family Foundation.   The Petit Family Foundation is a non profit charity organized in the wake of a tragic home invasion  that took the lives of  Jennifer, Hayely and Michaela Petit, leaving husband and father William Petit Jr critically injured.

As Dr Petit two friends happened to be Motorcycle enthusiasts, they likely integrated their own love of Biking with the well established fact that Bikers in general are givers- philanthropists in their own rite; Thousands of bikers particpate in  motorcycle rally's each year, traveling special routes all over the country to join forces, often raising money for children's charities and other worthy causes.

In other words, Bikers are known to have Big Hearts.

The " Ride for Justice" like many of the Petit foundation events emanated from people within the state of Connecticut and beyond intent on keep the kind and giving spirit of the "Petit girls" alive. In doing so they  continue to raise monies for the growing Petit Family Foundation a non profit charity
( )  formed in the wake of the murders after a veritable outpouring of (unsolicited) donations were sent to Dr William Petit Jr from all over the country.

 In the meantime, Dr Petit, still deeply grieving, slowly began the challenging and harrowing ascent from victim to survivor-ship, and  the Petit foundation would seem to serve as a respite as well as an engine for healing for he, his family and the entire community.

The Petit Family Foundation, it's fundraisers and rallies had become a positive focal point for the many, many people across the state and beyond, so greatly pained by Dr Petit's unfathomable loss, and the cruel nature of the crimes themselves. It allowed others to heal by translating terrible crimes and loss of precious life, into Good; all helping others and perpetuating the ideals of Dr. Petit's departed family.

Everyone participating in helping the Petit Floundation and its sub charities, in even the smallest of ways, were each helping to restore Michaela, Hayely and Jennifer Petit  to who they were in life, carrying their fine qualities onward, they were  preserving the Petit "girls" legacy of kindness and good and servioce to the community.

By 2010 it had been three years since the crimes had happened; the Foundation had transformed from a relatively small grassroots charity to a substantial non profit of reckoning whose many events, rallies and donation drives, were already making a huge difference in the communities surrounding Cheshire, as well as many other areas of the State.

Most importantly The Foundation was bringing people together and making a substantial difference in the lives of many people who were in desperate need of resources and assistance; all due to the hard work of Bill Petit Jr and his massive ever growing circle of volunteers and helpers.

From the Foundation's sizable donations to organizations that helped victims of violence,( with a focus on domestic violence/sexual assault, to helping adults and children struggling with chronic illness, the Petit Family Foundation developed a purposely broad mission statement, which had one constant at its core: the desire to help people in need, particularly those who lacked the resources and/or ability to help themselves.

Altruism, compassion and activism were qualities that family and friends all described as central in the lives of Hayely, Jennifer, and even eleven year old Michaela Petit. It was in fact a quote borrowed from Michaela's Face book page that inspired what was to become the Petit Foundation's by now infamous slogan

"Be the Change"

These three powerful words were taken from a quote by Mahatma Gandhi. At such a tender age, Michaela Petit chose this quote as her "favorite quotation" on her Facebook page:

You must be the change that you wish to see in this world"

 What better way to honor the Petit "girls" than to emulate their giving and caring natures.

While all of the Petit events are wonderful affairs, I have to admit that  "The Ride for Justice" is one of my favorites. It strikes a chord and touches my heart in some inexplicable way that I cannot necessarily convey with mere words. Suffice to say the video at the top of this post may help in this regard..

Seeing a brigade of otherwise tough, burly looking men riding in perfectly paired unison, atop shiny chrome tinged chargers, there faces somber but at the same time - glad to be of help on a  sunny Sunday morning, doing what many love the most riding their bikes. They do so to pay respect to the victims to Dr Petit, his family, and at the same time they are there to help others in need.

All of this brings tears to my face. A mixture of sadness hope  and pride. The same kind of tears that fall when I watch a group of aging veterans decked out in full dress uniform, navigating their way some in wheelchairs others on foot, in small town parades.

And then there is the excitement surrounding the arrival of thousands of  motorcycles descending into this typically quiet New England Town. The energy in the air literally vibrates,  everything changes at once: the diversity of the riders are as  mixed as the folks who come to watch,. some with children atop their shoulders elderly folks some with walkers and others with canes.

The onset of  Race day is enough to make anyone feel like a kid again. With a massive deafening roar, hundreds upon hundreds of shiny, colorful Motorcycles, come riding in double formation. Some Bikes hold lone riders, bearded men with bandannas atop mostly Harley s  some old some new but all appear lovingly waxed and polished for the occasion.

There are the sport bike enthusiasts,  weekend riders, straddling lower slung foreign bikes that have an entirely different look and feel. Most of the bikers ride with partners, arms wrapped, almost proprietorially around the driver's chests; The entire brigade is led by a imposing  gaggle of  helmeted State Police upon their Motorbikes,  lights ablaze and flashing. On this day, every rider is a brother, all here for a common good.

 It is surreal and heart warming to witness this display of diversity and unity. all for a greater good..

A greeting line has formed where each attendee patiently waits their turn to meet sole survivor turned philanthropist, Bill Petit;  These tough  looking men shake his hand, or, as was more often the case, give him an genuine heartfelt hug, some leaning in and in hushed tones they share whispered words, words that they hope will convey condolence, respect and inspiration. One need only see the faces to understand the message imparted. As is always the case,Srl Petit is profoundly gracious, and he returns every hug in kind, accepts the claps on his back and shakes every hand proffered. 

This massive display of  kindness, compassion and altruism, from a horde of men that many ( wrongly) assume are hard or macho, this this is what moves me so at this event..

You see. the message quickly becomes clear:: most people are good, kind and compassionate. We may dress differently,  choose different lifestyles, jobs, recreation, but none of that is what really matters.
 Love, compassion, healing and faith, these are the things that weave us all together..

And  now this lesson has been added to the growing legacy of Michaela, Jennifer and Hayely, as they are  resting in Gods loving arms, they will surely continue to inspire us.