EUGENE, Ore. — This year’s Chris Kilcullen Memorial Ride brought in a larger crowd of bikers than last year’s.
Hundreds filled the European Motorcycles of Western Oregon parking lot Sunday with their bikes and their support in what’s now a tradition. They went to seven different cities totaling 248 miles in honor of Chris’ badge number.
“It’s probably easy for most people to forget about the events that happened that day, but this is a yearly reminder of the things our public safety officers go through and the risks they take every day of having to protect our communities,” said memorial rider Joe Raade.
It’s been just over a year since the community lost the beloved motorcycle officer. So on Sunday, they honored him by doing something he did best, riding his bike.
While many at the event didn’t know him personally, those who did said the loss is still tough to deal with.
“I still have these waves of emotion that come over me several times a day. It hasn’t gone away,” said John Kilcullen, Chris’ father.
Though the pain remains, those close to Chris said the outpouring of support does help lessen the sting.
Chris’ friend and co-worker Nate Pieske said, “Ever since we lost Chris, obviously there’s been a lot of turbulence within the department and it’s been hard for a lot of us. But stuff like this really does help with the healing process and remembering what he was all about.”
“Chris was a guy that liked to pay it forward in the community. He genuinely cared for others,” said event founder Brian Antone.
“He was about helping people out in many ways, and this is just another way that he’s helping someone out even though he’s not here,” said Doug Ledbetter, Chris’ friend and fellow officer.
Family and friends said the huge community response even over a year after Chris’ passing is something that brings joy through the heartache.
“I just get excited. It’s very refreshing and encouraging to think that there’s that many people who remember Chris and think enough of him to participate in this kind of event,” said John Kilcullen.
Many of the folks at Sunday’s event said that while Chris is gone, his memory is not and the event was proof of that, as more than 300 people turned out to ride in his name.