By LINDA KELLETT
C-S-E News Staff
ST. JOHNSVILLE — Picture-perfect weather and more than a hundred miles of open road stretched before the more than 200 motorcyclists taking part in the third annual Justin’s Ride on July 21.
The one-day motorcycle rally, dedicated to the memory of St. Johnsville native Justin Snell, was the biggest gathering in his honor to date; and it raised thousands of dollars for area not-for-profit groups.
Justin, the son of Kim and Robert Snell, was 29 when he was killed in an auto accident in September 2009.
St. Johnsville resident Jamie Carter, who helped Justin’s mother coordinate this year’s event along with St. Johnsville resident Esther Capece, said riders and their passengers left en masse from the H.C. Smith Benefit Club at 11 a.m. that morning. They travelled roughly 105 miles, with stops at the Adirondack Harley Davidson dealership in Broadalbin, Driftwood Park on Vandenburgh Point in Mayfield, and Jim’s Irish Harbor in Canajoharie for food and refreshments before returning to the Benefit Club for music, a pork roast dinner and raffles early that evening, he said.
“It was a very nice run,” said Capece, 70, who rode along with the rest on her Harley Sportster.
“Kim and I both have our own bikes,” she said, noting that the group of motorcyclists stayed together for most of the day.
“This is one of the runs that they managed to keep everyone together,” Capece said.
The riders were escorted in Fulton County by Fulton County Sheriff’s deputies and the Johnstown Police Department, she added.
Each year, the event gets bigger, said Justin’s mother.
The first year, about 100 riders participated. Last year, the number nearly doubled, as 170 riders turned out.
“Justin loved motorcycles,” she recalled, noting he had a Harley Davidson Street Bob that he liked to tinker with.
She said the ride was “just a nice way to honor him.”
Because Justin and his brother, Jared, were both involved with youth sports, a large portion of the money raised from this year’s event will go to the St. Johnsville branch of the American Youth Soccer Organization. Other charitable causes will also receive funding.
Groups receiving contributions in the past included the St. Johnsville Little League, the Ayres Memorial Animal Shelter, the H.C. Smith Benefit Club’s annual Christmas giveaway, and a special program that provides hats, boots, mittens and coats to needy children in the area, she said.
Justin’s friend, Shawn Christensen, of St. Johnsville, was among those present for the ride.
He said, “Justin was one of my best friends. We grew up together. We lived together, then he went down to Atlanta to be a police officer. He came back and was going to be a roofer and tragically died.”
He continued, “I wish everyone knew him the way I knew him. He had a great big heart, and he cared about everyone around him. He was a hard worker.”