Photo Gallery | Jimmy's Ride draws bikers to raise money for Kid's Place
PITTSFIELD — Rob Bernardo was 10 in 1990 when his 13-year-old brother Jimmy was abducted and murdered.
On Saturday, 26 years later, he sat in the lodge at Bousquet Ski Area and contemplated the 145 bikers and their friends outside celebrating the annual Jimmy's Ride during the post-ride party.
"As a kid, it was the hardest thing I ever went through," Bernardo said. "It changes your whole outlook on life. But to see my brother's name used for such a great cause, it really makes me feel happy, gives the family some comfort."
The 21st annual, 55-mile Jimmy's Ride, as in years before, raised more than $20,000 to benefit the Berkshire County Kids' Place, a center for children who have been victims of abuse.
It also brings some awareness to the cause of child abuse treatment and prevention: Towns up and down the county heard their thunder as the phalanx of Jimmy's Riders passed through Lenox, Lee, Otis, Great Barrington, West Stockbridge and Richmond.
The ride took about 90 minutes.
According to information provided by Laura Baron, development coordinator at Kids' Place, there is an average of 3,000 reported cases of child abuse and neglect every year in Berkshire County, and the Kids' Place annually provides help to 400 children who have been victimized by abuse.
Clinical services at Kids' Place, which include evaluation and counseling, are free and available to victims of child abuse and children who witness domestic violence and to non-offending family members in a safe, home-like atmosphere. It is located in a restored Victorian house at 63 Wendell Ave. in Pittsfield.
The bikers assembled for Jimmy's Ride in the parking lot across the street from Kids' Place and started the ride at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Each biker pays a registration fee of $25, and some give more for the cause, Baron said. There is a $5 entry fee for guests at the post ride party at Bousquet, which featured food and live bands.
Every year, a Berkshire County motorcycle club, Crippled Old Busted Bikers, provides logistical support to the ride by blocking intersections and other traffic to let the long column of bikers flow through the county unimpeded. Pittsfield Police Department motorcycle officers also provide support and an escort for the bikers.
Bernardo said that when the rides started in 1995, he was still a kid, and he would be awestruck as the bikers rumbled down the street. When he grew up, he got his own bike and started rolling with the rest.
"I loved seeing the bikes take off every year," he said. "Even today, I'm in awe of the number of bikers that come out. I know a lot of people think bikers are big, tough guys or in gangs. But they're just like everybody else. And these guys are so generous — they're taking all this time to help a great cause."