A total of 71 bikes revved their engines in unison at the Robert A. Christensen Justice Center Sunday morning in Castle Rock bringing Julie Widmer to tears.
The 14th annual Blue Thunder Ride Benefit and Poker Run, ridden in honor of Widmer’s stepfather, Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Ron King, is part celebration of life/part fundraiser for Douglas County children.
This year’s ride, which wound from Castle Rock to Monument, east into Black Forest and north to Kiowa, raised $2,600 for the Ron King Organization’s scholarship fund as well as financial aid money to help select area high school students pay for such things as school supplies, athletic fees and instruments.
King, 14 years ago, was killed in the line of duty after being struck by a drunk driver. Finishing up his shift, King was riding his motorcycle south on US 85 back to the station when a van pulled out of The Matchbox Bar – which has since been leveled – and plowed into he and his partner, Chris Washburn, who was riding with him.
Washburn, now a sergeant with the department, wound up in the ICU requiring reconstructive surgery. King was pronounced dead at the scene.
One of the first D.A.R.E. officers with the department, King had dedicated his life to helping people make the right choices when it came to using drugs and alcohol and getting behind the wheel, something that made his death that much harder for many.
“Someone like Ron that gave so much to the community, trying to take care of our youth and trying to mentor and educate them on right and wrong and how to grow up and be a good citizen, to be stricken down by a guy who was abusing alcohol, it’s like something you see in a movie,” said Sheriff David A. Weaver.
What has come out of King’s death is perhaps the feel-good ending to a tragic film.
Each year, law enforcement and members of the community alike come together on their bikes for the memorial ride to help pay it forward to area youth. Last year, part of the proceeds also went to help the family of fallen Englewood police officer Jeremy Bitner, who, similar to King, was killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver.
“It took me a long time before I was able to participate in a ride,” said Widmer. “I would see a motorcycle and think of him, think of how he died. But once I got on the back of (a bike) and was surrounded by family and by people all here for the same reason I am, it really calmed me down a lot.
“I would love to have more community members come out. That is who we are supporting is their kids. I know there are a ton of people out there with bikes. I want to give them a reason to ride and come support something good.”
For more information, please go to www.ronkingorganization.org.