By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
MARLBOROUGH – Motorcyclists, passengers and other supporters welcomed the return of the Shawna Jean Larassa (SJL) Memorial Scholarship Fund’s major fundraiser after a four-year hiatus.
On a hot and humid Aug. 14, the eighth SJL Memorial Ride began and ended at the Marlborough Moose Family Center 1129.
George Larassa of Marlborough established the scholarship fund in memory of his daughter Shawna. She died from a vehicle accident at age 19 in 2009. At the time, Shawna had completed her freshman year at Johnson & Wales, where she majored in business and criminal justice.
Prior to the ride, Shawna’s best friend Angie Moulton sang the national anthem.
This year, 272 motorcyclists and many passengers traveled 55 miles through eight communities including Marlborough and Hudson. A motorcyclist himself, Larassa led the ride with an escort from motorcycle police representing Hudson, Marlborough, Auburn, Milford and Shirley.
Other supporters joined ride participants afterward at the Marlborough Moose. Post-ride activities began with lunch catered by Brad Tolan and the Prospector East Saloon crew.
Outdoors in the parking lot, the Marlborough-based band Flashback provided musical entertainment. Meanwhile, singer-songwriter and guitarist Jodee Frawlee of Northborough performed inside the lodge.
Guests browsed various vendors’ booths along with two nonprofits. The Women of the Moose offered raffles.
Additionally, the Massachusetts chapter of Team Sharing Inc. brought its Hope’s Room. Team Sharing is a national nonprofit that offers support to families who have lost a child to substance use disorder. Hope’s Room is a mobile interactive bedroom to promote substance use awareness and possible warning signs.
Fundraising for the SJL Memorial Scholarship Fund continued with raffles. Among the prizes were a Bose sound system, a motorized bicycle, and game tickets for the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots and WooSox.
Post-ride activities also featured a butterfly release.
“Shawna loved butterflies,” Larassa shared. “Butterflies are truly the wings of angels.”
Larassa and Cindy Bonini organized the event with volunteers.