KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Two years after tragedy struck the Kalamazoo community, survivors, first responders, cyclists and organizers are coming together to reveal a memorial for those killed on June 7, 2016.
"We are using it as an opportunity to both to memorialize the crash and the victims," said survivor Paul Runnels. "But also as an opportunity to thank the community for what they have done for the support they have given us."
Members of the Chain Gang bike club and survivors began planning this memorial over a year ago, meeting regularly to come up with a concept and execute the plan.
"The process actually started I think the week after the ride started and I wasn't even part of it," Runnels said. "You know the Chain Gang sponsored a 'Finish the Ride' memorial ride that first week and raised some money and that went into the Kalamazoo Strong fund and then a year later we raised some more money and by that time we were talking about a memorial and so we kept some of that money set aside for a memorial."
The dedication is open to the public, but the organizers also invited specific people so they could properly thank them for the help and support they have provided over the years.
"It is an opportunity to kind of thank people who have supported us over the past year," Runnels said. "We have invited a lot of the first responders to come in and we really appreciate what they did because in spite of the fact we lost five lives, they save four more so it was really important to bring them into it."
On Thursday at 5:30 p.m. they finally revealed the finished site.
A memorial ride will followed the dedication and those participating were invited to gather at the Fountains Banquet Center in Parchment for food and drinks following the ride. Proceeds from the ride will be used to not only maintain the memorial but also to promote bicycle advocacy across the state.