MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — Dozens of men and women, suited up in leather and on an array of different types of motorcycles, smoothly buzzed into formation in the parking lot of Bob Evans Friday.
They are members of two local motorcycle clubs — Sworn Justice and Forsaken Defenders — made up of law enforcement, first responders, military and their supporters. They were there to enjoy a ride with their fellow bikers.
But more importantly, they were on a mission. The group was headed to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, where they, as a group, planned to honor those lost in the attacks on 9/11 and keep the memory of that day alive.
“It was quiet on the radio that day, the next day,” said Bret Morgan, a sergeant with the Sheffield Village Police Department and a member of Sworn Justice. “I think everyone was still just in shock in 2001. We don’t want to forget that. We don’t ever want to forget what happened to us on that day and keep remembering and make sure that never dies…for all the victims.”
Both Morgan and Miguel Lugo, a member of Forsaken Defenders, have been to the memorial before.
“It’s a very emotional place,” said Lugo. “It takes you back to that day. It’s important for us to never forget what happened on that tragic day.”
It will take about three hours to get to their destination.
But while this weekend the group is focusing on 9/11, a large part of their mission is to help others. They spend the entire year holding events, fundraising and pulling together to give to their communities.
Elyria-based Sworn Justice, for example, raises money for everything from Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House to officers who are sick and injured.
“Not only just ride the bikes, but we also try and raise money…we’re not for profit…so every dollar we raise is put right back into the communtiy,” said Morgan.
Similiary, Cleveland-based Forsaken Defenders also raises money to help those in need. Currently, they’re raising funds for a 2-year-old child who is battling cancer. Lugo also mentioned an elderly woman who needed a washing machine. His group made sure one was purchased and installed for her.
Forsaken Defenders next week will lead a Motorcycle Ride for Hope with the Cleveland Family Center for Missing Children and Adults. As part of the event, they’ll stop at different locations where missing children or adults were found or went missing to give them flowers and show support.
“The message is, letting them know this organization is here and and providing resources to families that typically they wouldn’t have access to,” said Lugo.
The groups, who describe their fellow members as a “brotherhood,” feel strongly about helping their communities — and each other.
“I’ve been part of a lot of organizations,” said Lugo. “What we do is pretty unique to the biker community. “We’re so generous with our time and money. A lot of us are stretched for time…but we make time.”
“I’ve been a police officer 23 years, so I’m already used to helping the community I work for,” said Morgan. “It was like a calling to be able to raise money and organize things…it’s a way for me to get a good core group of guys, network with other clubs and we support them, they support us and we go back and forth.”