Ride to remember Army Staff Sgt. William ‘Billy’Wilson III
This weekend, motorcyclists will rev their engines to honor a fallen serviceman in the inaugural SSG William R. “Billy” Wilson III Memorial Motorcycle Ride and Raffle.
“The motorcycle run came about because Billy loved motorcycles,” said Jennifer Pekarski, publicity coordinator of the event. “He had his own, and he did like to ride others. We thought that doing a motorcycle ride would be very fitting for his memory.”
Wilson, a graduate of Williamsville North High School, was 27 years old when he was killed in action a little more than two years ago while serving in Afghanistan. Pekarski says Wilson went into the service in 2005.
“Every time I saw Billy, he was having fun, laughing, loving life, so I cherish all the times I got to see him, particularly the last time he was home, which was just a few weeks before he was killed,” Pekarski said.
The event — to benefit the SSG William R. Wilson III Memorial Foundation and its mission — will take place on Sunday, Aug. 24. The Wilson family, along with Pekarski, worked together to make the event happen.
Registration for riders will begin at 11 a.m., and the ride is planned for 1 p.m. The ride will start at the Greater Buffalo Gymnastics and Fitness Center at 1641 N. French Road in Getzville and end at the Jurek Post, 665 New Road in Swormville.
Pekarski says the reason riders are starting at the Greater Buffalo Gymnastics and Fitness Center is because the Hirschs, who are the owners of the center, were close to Wilson’s family. At the location, they have a memorial flag-post dedicated to Wilson.
A celebration will follow the ride at 2:30 p.m. at the Jurek Post and will feature live music, basket raffles, food and beverages, and games for children. Non-riders are also welcome to attend the entertainment at the Jurek Post.
“We are hoping to raise about $5,000, and that money will be used for scholarships and for donations to the charities that our foundation donates to,” she said.
According to Pekarski, the foundation’s charities include Western New York Heroes Inc., the Western New York “I AM Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial,” and youth scholarships.
“We’re thinking we will probably have about 100 bikes,” she said.
Pekarski says the ride will be scenic, and state troopers are assisting with police escorts.
“I’m looking forward to being able to celebrate Billy,” she said.
“He really enjoyed riding motorcycles, so being able to ride our motorcycle — my husband and I have a motorcycle — we’ll be able to ride in the ride.
“He [Billy] actually used to ride our motorcycle. We think of him a lot when we ride it. It’s very special for us.”