Bikers’ benefit to honor rider’s son, Jeff Jablonski
By Danny restivo
Recovering from a loved one’s death can be incredibly difficult, especially for a father who loses a son. For Marc Jablonski, the healing process includes his motorcycle and the open road.
“Riding for me is mental therapy,” said Jablonski. “I get to unload my tension and thoughts.”
That release was critical after his son, Jeff, died in October 2011 while working at a construction site in Lisbon. He said without the escape, his loss would have taken a greater toll on him.
On Saturday, Jablonski and 30 other bikers will make their way around the Valley in honor of Jeff. He welcomes all to join the ride, which will include stops in Cortland, Howland and Harley-Davidson BikeTown in Austintown. The riders will then venture back to the Hubbard Downtown Coffee Cafe on North Main Street for a cornhole tournament, a Chinese auction and day of celebrating Jeff.
“We all lost Jeff,” said Todd Hanley. “He was a great person, and he was loved by everyone.”
Hanley graduated with Jeff in 2004, before they both attended Youngstown State University together.
He said Saturday’s event initially was for some friends to remember Jeff, but interest from the community helped the event blossom.
Hanley and Jablonski credit the city of Hubbard and local organizers who have come together for an individual who cared for others.
“If you needed him, he was always there,” said Hanley.
All of the day’s proceeds, including tips from waitresses, will go toward a scholarship fund in Jeff’s memory, said Hanley. He and Jeff’s father hope the money can help a young person looking to enroll at a trade school.
After attending Youngstown State University, Jeff enrolled at the New Castle School of Trades, where he learned carpentry and construction.
Jablonski said Jeff had a passion for the work, and he hopes it can help another person like his son. He believes the support like this would have overwhelmed his son.
“He would be excited and happy to see all his buddies together at the same place, and say ‘wow this is for me,’” said Jablonski.
Jablonski will be wearing a necklace with a medallion that has his son’s thumbprint engraved on it. The back of it has Jeff’s initials, JPJ, along with his date of death. Jablonski said he always wears it when he rides, because he knows his son would have an interest in motorcycles like his father.
“I think in time he would have been like me,” said Jablonksi.
Saturday’s motorcycle ride starts at 1:30 p.m. at the Downtown Coffee Cafe in Hubbard.