By Rebecca Kensil, Contributing Writer
Marlborough??”Almost 300 bikers revved their motorcycles and then rode ?out of the?Marlboro Moose Family Center 1129 parking lot Aug. 10 for the ?2013 SJL Memorial Scholarship Fund Motorcycle Ride. The fundraiser is an annual event to honor the life of Shawna Jean Larassa, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 2009 at age 19.
The ride has been hosted annually by her father, George Larassa, as a way to raise money so that students, both adults and children, can afford an education.
“Her name has gotten out there as synonymous with helping and with people being able to go to school and having opportunity,” Larassa said.
He noted that Shawna loved school, and she had just completed her first ?year at Johnson and Wales University where she had studied criminal justice.
At the event, there was plenty for attendees to do. Prior to the kickoff, hundreds watched Larassa unveil a motorcycle that had been painted for him as a tribute to his daughter. He then led the procession of riders.
In addition to the ride, the event included vendors, music, and dinner. There was also a butterfly release after the event to honor Shawna, Larassa said, because she loved them.
“People will open them up, and the butterflies will come out of a piece of paper,” he said. “They will flutter away. It signifies beauty. Nobody ever really gets to chase a butterfly or hold one. People get this chance to play with a butterfly. Shawna used to love them going through the metamorphosis, from a caterpillar to a butterfly. She just absolutely loved it.”
Participants could also buy raffle tickets for a 1986 Ford Mustang convertible, which will be awarded at a later date. Larassa also holds other fundraisers during the year, such as a community night for senior citizens.
During the event, Larassa also showed off “The Red Fury,” his father's car that he had been working on for seven years. It had been intended as a gift for his daughter, he noted.
“A lot of heartache went into that car,” he said. “I promised it to Shawna all her life.”
“We got it all pulled together, and it's here today,” he added.