“Rick loved riding motorcycles … that was one of the main reasons that we started this ride. If he wasn’t at the firehouse or helping out in the community, he was more than likely out riding his motorcycle,” David Guthrie, organizer of the 2nd Annual Richard Garner Memorial Ride, tells Madison365. “So we wanted to kind of bring his two loves together – firefighting and motorcycle riding – and make it into something where we can give back to the community. It’s what Rick wanted to do.”
Richard Garner Jr. died on Easter morning last year – just four days before his 30th birthday – shortly after finishing a 48-hour shift on the job. Garner had a long and stressful two days and by the time he finished his shift at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, he had responded to 19 emergency calls. Guthrie was Garner’s paramedic partner at station 10.
“Rick always put other people first before himself – whether it was the patients that we saw or the kids in the community,” says Guthrie, who recently was promoted and now works out of fire station 3. “Whatever situation he came into he wanted to always leave it better after he left. He was a fun-loving guy. He was never having fun until everybody was having fun. Likewise, he always made sure other people were taken care of first before he took care of himself.”
Guthrie and the Richard Garner Memorial Committee are once again organizing the Annual Richard Garner Memorial Ride, which will take place Saturday, June 29, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
The 100-mile ride will start with registration at 9 a.m. at Harley-Davidson of Madison located on Madison’s east side.
“We’re having a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. where we’re going to present the first two Richard Garner Memorial Ride scholarships. Each scholarship is worth $2,500,” Guthrie says. “Then the bikes will leave at about 11 a.m. and it’s about a 120-130 mile bike ride.”
The group will travel through Cambridge, Paoli, Brooklyn, New Glarus, and end in Verona at Wisconsin Brewing Co. The reception at the final stop will feature food carts, a silent auction, a bouncy house, face painting, a balloon artist, and the Ryan McGrath Band.
This year’s ride is not only a way to remember and honor the life and legacy of Richard Garner Jr, but it is also a way to continually honor others who have passed away.
“Our event is even a little more significant this year because we’re also raising money for the Mahoney family. Todd, of course, was a driver/paramedic for the City of Madison who passed away two and a half weeks ago,” Guthrie says. “All of the money that we raise on our three stops – we’re going to have a 50/50 raffle at our three stops, raffle items, pass the boot, etc.”
Guthrie says that even if you don’t have a vehicle with two wheels, feel free to come out to the event in a vehicle with three or four wheels to help Firefighters Local 311 raise money for the Richard Garner Memorial Scholarship Fund.
“Everybody is welcome. So, if you have a classic car and you want to come out or you have a trike bike … anything that rolls,” Guthrie laughs. “If you want to have a good time, this will be the place to support a great cause. We’d love to have you come out.
“It’s a relaxed, fun time. We have people from EMS, firefighters, police and a variety of community people who all come together for this event. It’s kinda crazy how this has taken off, but I think it’s a testament to the type of person Rick was.”
To date, Guthrie says, they have raised over $30,000 in Richard Garner’s name in 13 months and that they plan on adding a third Richard Garner Scholarship next year.
“We’ve lucked out because we’ve had a lot of great support in the community. I would like to thank the Local 311 principle officers for their support with this fundraiser, as well,” Guthrie says. “[Madison Fire Department] Chief [Steven] Davis has been very supportive, too. He’s been one of the big supporters of this ride and in keeping Rick’s name alive. Rick was part of Chief Davis’s first class.
“Rick made a big influence on a whole lot of people. Obviously, his life was way too short. We’re interested in keeping his legacy alive,” he adds.
For more information about the 2nd Annual Richard Garner Memorial Ride, click here.