Motorcyclists from throughout the Okanagan will join together on Oct. 16 for the annual Memorial Last Ride in memory of brothers and sisters who have died.

The event is organized by the Okanagan Motorcycle Riders Association (OMRA) and the Omra Omra club.

“It’s our final ride of the season and it’s just to honour those who have moved on in life,” said OMRA president Tom Cook, who has been at the helm of the club for eight years. “It’s important to acknowledge those we have known and who are no longer with us, especially for those who have succumbed on the highway due to mishaps.”

Among the names memorial riders will be remembering will be 18-year-old Tavin Hansom who died in motorcycle accident near Kelowna in June.

A ride in celebration of his life was held in July with over 100 motorcyclists taking part.

Other names include riders Rex Gill of Penticton who was the victim of mistaken-identity fatal shooting in 2019 and Mike Courtney who died in a crash in 2020.

Courtney was returning to his South Okanagan home after taking part in a memorial ride for Gill when the accident happened.

Cook pointed out that these rides and other year-round club activities to helps kids and families and gives members a chance to show their true colours.

“Motorcycling doesn’t have a bad wrap, some of the noise does but motorcycling in general doesn’t,” he said. “All the guys with tattoos, they’re big teddy bears, that’s the only way I can put it.

“The image was bad back in the day of HA (Hells Angels) and the rest but it has changed.”

As an example he pointed to how much OMRA does to help people in the Okanagan, including the recent Toy Run for the Saint Vincent De Paul Society.

Held last month for the 35th time, the event attracted over 100 riders who raised more than $3,000 and collected a lot of toys for kids this Christmas.

OMRA is also committed to helping the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre which assists kids throughout the South Okanagan.

Registration for this year’s Last Ride is Oct. 16 at 10:30 a.m. at the Riverside Drive A&W in Penticton. The planned route is the Kelowna-Rock Creek loop, depending on weather.

— This story was originally published by the Penticton Herald.