Motorcyclists turn out en masse for the 19th annual Jimmy Bernardo Memorial Ride
Photo Gallery | 19th annual Jimmy Bernardo Memorial Ride
This story was updated on Monday, July 14, 2014 to correct that the ride was 73-miles long, not 37-miles long.
PITTSFIELD -- Sunday is always a Dickensonian day for Robert Bernardo and his family.
It is the best of times because the Bernardos are reminded of the tremendous civic support they enjoy every year from the many participants in the 19th Annual Jimmy Bernardo Memorial Ride.
It is the worst of times because the Bernardos are reminded all day of how their son and brother met his end.
More than 130 motorcycle riders participated in this year's event and hundreds more donated to the fund it sponsors. The 73-mile ride started on Wendell Avenue and ended at Bousquet Ski Area.
Jimmy Bernardo was a 12-year-old boy who was abducted and murdered in 1990 by a sexual predator who is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison.
"It reminds me of the good things about my brother," said Rob Bernardo, the event organizer and family spokesman. "I remember the positive things about Jim."
One of those good things was that young Jim Bernardo learned sign language because he knew a handful of deaf people in his neighborhood.
"He wanted to be able to communicate with them because they were being teased in school," said Rob Bernardo. "He didn't like that they were being bullied."
The event is expected to raise between $25,000 and $30,000 for Kid's Place, according to executive director Christa Collier.
Kid's Place is a child advocacy center that coordinates response to sexual abuse using a team that includes the District Attorney's office, the Dept. of Children and Families and medical and mental health professionals.
To date, Jimmy's Run has raised more than $300,000 for Kid's Place.
"It's so great there is still so much support," said Collier. "The legacy of Jimmy still lives on."
"I got involved with this because sexual abuse happens everywhere," said former Windsor police chief Mike Tirrell, who was a police officer and later police chief in that small town for 29 years.
And, said Tirrell, child sexual abuse is universal.
"People think it couldn't possibly happen in a small town," said Tirrell. "Well, it happened in Windsor and it happens everywhere. No town is immune."
Sunday's event," said Tirrell, "is a testament to Jimmy Bernardo and to all the people in this community. It raises money and it raises awareness of this issue.
"They know," he said, "this is not going to go away. It's always going to be with us. I think we all know that."
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