Big Mike’s Memorial Run remembers Mike Kerr who died in an accident five years ago, and honors his decision to be an organ donor.
It’s been five years since a tragic motorcycle accident claimed the life of Michael Todd Kerr.
On Sunday, the fourth annual “Big Mike’s Memorial Run” honored both his memory and his decision to be an organ donor.
The free motorcycle ride, which started and ended at Boettler Park, drew an estimated 250 bikes.
Kristen Kerr, Mike’s sister, was a first-time rider in the event. She was a passenger on the back of her father’s bike.
“This is the first year I’m not sad,” she said, although she admitted to crying when she saw her brother’s picture on a big television display outside an Alliance car dealership.
She said it’s her dad, Joe Kerr, who has kept the ride growing each year.
“It’s like his other job,” she said of Joe.
Joe said simply, “I do it because I get to talk about Mike.”
Over the last four years, the ride has drawn not only friends and family of Michael, but also several recipients of his organs.
“I’m in a place that’s 10 times better than where I would have been had he not been a donor,” said Joe. “It’s like we’ve inherited a second family.”
Joe and his wife Jan are now counselors for LifeBanc and will contact the family members of organ donors several months after they have lost their loved one. They talk about their own experience and offer a shoulder.
“Sometimes they are really eager to talk and sometimes they aren’t ready,” said Jan, who said watching the bikers roll into the park Sunday was “so cool. It’s amazing to remember Michael.”
The couple hoped to meet in person, for the first time, the recipient of Mike’s liver. The recipient’s son had a baseball tournament. If she didn’t make it, the families said they would meet next month.
The ride made several stops, including Kent State University’s Salem Campus, where Mike Kerr was one semester from a degree in landscape design.
The last stop was the Legends Sports Pub in Green, where Kerr was working the night he died. He was headed to breakfast after closing when his motorcycle hit a concrete barrier in the median on state Route 241 in Green. He died later that day.
Sunday’s event featured a raffle of donated prizes from dozens of sponsors and dinner donated by Legends. Proceeds will benefit LifeBanc.
Reach Lisa at 330-580-8302 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @lreicoskyREP