Family coping with motorcyclist’s death; dedicating weekend ride in her honor

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JENISON, Mich. – A family still in shock after losing their loved one yesterday in a deadly motorcycle accident is  looking to dedicate a weekend event in her honor.

Jessica Whalen, 37, was killed while riding her motorcycle Wednesday afternoon after a SUV pulled out in front of her in Byron Center. Police say the driver most likely didn't see Whalen on her bike. She left behind three daughters, a son and her husband.

Jessica Whalen. Courtesy Facebook.

Jessica Whalen. Courtesy Facebook.

"I love my mom; she has always been there for me,” said Alexxis Whalen, Jessica's daughter. “And I just wish she would be there for the rest of my life."

"It didn't seem real. I had to sit there for a minute and have it all sink in,” Jessica's daughter, Skylar said. “The other kids dropped to the floor screaming and crying.”

Jessica was an avid motorcycle enthusiast and safety advocate. She was the type of rider who was always sure to wear her helmet on the road. She shared this video warning drivers about the dangers of not seeing people on motorcycles in April:

“I was always saying, 'Jess you need to be careful, you need to be careful,'” says Jessica's mother, Barb Schneider. “I just never expected this to happen. Because I know she was safe.”

Jessica was an active member of the Chick Run Association; a local women’s motorcycle club that rides for women’s causes and charities. A ride that was already planned for this Saturday will be dedicated to Jessica, and part of the route will go by the place she was killed.

"We are going to make a big neon green cross to stick in there, and we are going to stop and we are going to go say hi and goodbye and that we love her," said Anne Cole, a fellow rider and wind sister of Jessica's.

Jessica Whalen may be gone, but her family and friends are making sure her memory lives on, and they are urging  other drivers to watch out for motorcyclists so other families can avoid the tragedy they are going through now.

The 18th annual Chick Run Association ride is being held Saturday, June 4th at Dwight Lydell Park in Grand Rapids located at 4040 Leland Ave. Sign up time is 9:00 a.m. with the actual ride beginning at 10:00 a.m. The cost to participate is $15.

Memorial services will be held for Jessica after the ride at Fair Haven Church at 2900 Baldwin Road in Hudsonville to those who wish to pay their respects.

For more information, you can contact Deb Hoffman at 616-822-5749.

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