Remembering the fallen

Proceeds from the ride
benefit FOP scholarships at Youngstown State.



YOUNGSTOWN — Roxanne Durante of Youngstown has only been riding her own motorcycle for two months, but she had no hesitation about entering her 500cc Kawasaki Vulcan in the fifth annual Fallen Officers Memorial Run.

Durante and her aunt, Michelle Durante, astride a Harley-Davidson Sportster, joined hundreds of other motorcyclists from across the region to participate in the event Sunday.

The run honors all fallen police officers in the Mahoning Valley but is held in memorial of city patrolman Michael Hartzell who was murdered in April 2003.

“I think it’s a nice way to give back, to show my support,” Roxanne Durante said as she climbed aboard her bike to move to another locale in Federal Plaza.

The plaza and several blocks of Federal Street, Market Avenue and Wick Avenue were closed for the day as hundreds of gleaming motorcycles, the majority of them Harley-Davidsons, lined the streets after the ride as participants listened to bands and found a bite to eat.

The after-ride party was open to anyone.

A successful event

The ride is sponsored by the Blue Knights Lodge 28 of Youngstown to honor fellow police officers who have died in the line of duty.

Patrol Officer Bob Chaibi, president of the organization and a city motorcycle officer, said a final count wouldn’t be available until today but “hundreds and hundreds “ of motorcycles participated in the run that began around 11 a.m.

Riders were charged $15 to enter and passengers paid $10 each. The ride went smoothly with no mishaps, he said.

Chaibi said proceeds form the event benefit Fraternal Order of Police scholarships given to students attending Youngstown State University.

Chaibi said the ride drew participants from as far away as New Jersey and Wisconsin last year. He wasn’t sure how far some may have traveled for Sunday’s event, but there was a maroon Harley-Davidson Dyna Glide Convertible with a Florida license plate sitting at the end of a row of bikes on the plaza.

Showing support

Poland Police Chief Russ Beatty was there, with he and his wife, Tammy, riding separate Harleys.

They were joined by a friend, Denise Knepper of Austintown, who is also a novice rider who has only owned her own bike for a short time.

Knepper was riding an 800cc Suzuki which “gets me where I need to go,” she said.

Beatty said he didn’t know Hartzell well but that Hartzell was friends with some of the Poland officers.

Beatty and his wife said they’ve made all five of the rides.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

“And it’s a great day,” added his wife.

“It’s for a good cause,” Knepper said, adding that her first major group ride was “awesome.”

Linda Dattilo of Campbell said she made the ride sitting behind her husband, David, president of the Paladin Knights, a veterans’ group that sells various items such as pins, patches and bandannas at these types of events to raise money to support the Butler Veterans Hospital and the VA Clinic on Belmont Avenue.

She and her husband have done three of the Fallen Officers rides, she said.

This one was “a little warm,” as temperatures soared into the low 90s. “But it was awesome,” Dattilo said.

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