The 2nd Annual Kaleb McLaughlin Memorial Ride was held on Saturday in Pioneer. The event honored Kaleb and his contributions while raising money for tissue awareness.
Kaleb McLaughlin was a resident of Pioneer who was killed in truck accident two years ago. Following his death, the Oxender family sought a way to keep Kaleb’s memory alive. Thus the Memorial Ride was born.
An 85 mile motorcycle ride, covering every town in Williams County, the Kaleb McLaughlin Memorial Ride is put on by Fire and Iron Station 84 Firefighter/Motorcycle Club.
The motorcycle ride began at the Pioneer American Legion and hit every town in Williams County before ending at Kaleb’s grave. The Memorial Ride was much more than a motorcycle ride however as the day was filled with festivities including a 5K run in the morning, a cruise in and a Gun Raffle by The Archery Spot.
Kevin Oxender, Kaleb’s step father, called the support they received, “Amazing.”
“I don’t really have words to thank them [the community].”
As the ride passed through each town Oxender said he was blown away by the support.
The Bryan Fire Department opened their doors for the group while Edon gave police escort starting in Blakeslee until they reached Montpelier.
Oxender said the ride was emotional for all, “There wasn’t a dry eye on the bikes,” adding, “We are so grateful and thankful for Williams County and the community of Pioneer.”
The Oxender family came up with a motorcycle ride as the best way to honor their son as Kaleb very passionate about cars and bikes. Some of the proceeds went to the Pioneer First Responders as Kaleb intended to become one before his death.
Saturday was not just about Kaleb but also about Organ Donation Awareness. As an organ donor, Kaleb was able to help a number of people, even after his death.
Oxender said, “[Today] isn’t about us. It’s about remembering Kaleb. He was a very giving person. He’d give you the shirt off his back.”
Oxender added that organ donation can help preserve the memory of a person.
“People have the opportunity to give and make a donation that can be remembered. They can live on by giving the gift of life.”
Saturday saw an entire community support Kaleb as motorcycles wrapped around an entire block in Pioneer for the ride.
Kim May, a member of Fire and Iron, said he came out to, “Support his brothers and sisters.”
John Chapin who is currently vying to become a member of Fire and Iron said he rode to support the “Firefighter brotherhood. We’re one big happy family.”
The day “exceeded expectations” according to Oxender. 170 bikes took part in the ride, easily surpassing last year’s total of 137. The 5K run had only 18 pre registered participants but more than 70 people ran in the race.
All of the day’s proceeds were donated to local businesses and groups in the Pioneer community. In addition to the First Responders, money was also donated to the Pioneer FFA for scholarships in Kaleb’s name, the Community Tissue Services, and Donate Life Educational Vehicle.
Last year’s ride raised $12,000 and the Oxender family estimates the same amount was raised on Saturday.
Oxender said the day was “very humbling.” The Oxender family plans to be back next year, “bigger and better.”
Spencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org