ABOUT THE WALL
The concept of the Traveling Memorial Wall for Fallen Bikers was created by John Palmer, owner of The Chrome Café bike shop, in Cicero, NY, in February 2011. He wanted a way to remember his loved ones and people that he and his friends used to ride with. The first name on the Wall is his father and the second is his brother. He wanted the Wall to be mobile and available to any group that wanted to display it at an event. He got to work designing and fabricating a framed panel with legs that could stand on its own. John reached out to his friends that rode and they contacted their friends. Quickly word spread about this project and he was able to gather enough names to fill a Wall panel. He then contacted Donnie Dana with Airbrushing by Dana located in Hannibal and worked out the artwork. The next step proved to be more difficult than was thought. John had to have the names of the bikers screen printed over the airbrushed artwork on the aluminum panel. Finally the concept was completed by spraying several layers of clear coat over the names and artwork. The first Traveling Memorial Wall Panel was finished and it was dedicated on May 22, 2011 at the Happy Valley Inn located in Parish, NY. The back of the first Panel reads “This wall is a traveling wall and available to any group to display. A record of the names on the wall is kept in a ledger book. As a “group” of people all over this country we have one of the highest death rates with exception to the military. There are thousands of riders across this country. It’s a group all in it’s own from every walk of life. It’s not what you ride it’s why you ride. The fact that you rode at all is why your name is allowed on this wall. This wall was constructed to honor the riders of this country the people that sought the freedom that we fight for every day. The freedom to ride when and what you want.” The motorcycling community was thrilled to have an opportunity to gather and tell the stories of the rides and memories of the brothers and sisters they rode with.
In the spring of 2012 John realized that he could not give the Wall the attention it needed so he went to the monthly meeting of the Oswego Chapter of ABATE. He described his vision for the growth of the Traveling Memorial Wall for Fallen Bikers and asked if they would be willing to be the custodian of the Wall. Of course they said yes and Vice-President Bruce LePorte agreed to keep the Wall in his garage. Knowing that the Wall needed to be seen by motorcyclists, Bruce began taking the Wall to motorcycle events in Oswego and Onondaga Counties. The Wall was loaded into the back of his car wrapped in a sleeping bag and was driven to Lake Como for the Onondaga ABATE Memorial Ride, motorcycle rodeos and other events and even traveled to the Syracuse Nationals classic car show at the NYS Fairgrounds. In The Traveling Memorial Wall for Fallen Bikers also created a ninety minute PowerPoint presentation complete with an interactive county map indicating motorcycle crash sites to be used in high school driver education classes in Oswego County. In October, President of the Wall, Bruce LePorte, was awarded Oswego County Traffic Safety Champion for his efforts with motorcycle awareness and safety education.
There is no cost to nominate a motorcyclist to be added to the Traveling Memorial Wall for Fallen Bikers, the biker did not have to die while riding or be a club member, only had to have a love to ride motorcycles. People nominated names everywhere the Wall traveled. After just one riding season Bruce had received enough names to create a second panel. This Panel would feature the airbrush artwork of Matt Hubbard of Airbrush Plus in Oswego. The second Wall Panel was dedicated on May 25, 2013, at JP's Bar & Grill, owned by John Palmer, in Hastings, NY. Each year the Wall is seen by more people and more names are collected. By the end of the 2013 riding season the third Wall Panel was completed and it was dedicated on September 7, 2013 again at JP's Bar & Grill. The artwork for the third panel was also done by Matt Hubbard of Airbrush Plus in Oswego. In October Educational Coordinator for the Wall, Sandy Mensch, was awarded Oswego County Traffic Safety Champion for her efforts with motorcycle awareness and safety education.
The 2014 riding season proved to be a monumental year for the Wall. First, the family and organizers of the second annual Ryan McNitt Memorial Ride held June 7th, raised $1,236 and donated it to the Traveling Memorial Wall for Fallen Bikers. On July 19th, the Wall received another donation from the family of Bob Gleason, Jr. at the Ole’ Bag Memorial Run, held at Happy Valley Inn. On July 31st, thanks to all the generous donations, the Traveling Memorial Wall for Fallen Bikers was incorporated and given 501c3 not for profit charitable corporation status. The purpose of this corporation is to seek to save lives and decrease motorcycle crashes and fatalities on roads by educating the public and increasing driver awareness of motorcycles, promoting safe riding habits, and the proper use of safety gear, and to honor the memory of motorcycle riders who loved to ride. For three years, Bruce loaded the Wall panels in his car and drove them from one motorcycle event to another and set the panels up for people to see. In October Vice President for the Wall, Jim Waterman, was awarded Oswego County Traffic Safety Champion for his efforts with motorcycle awareness and safety education.
In the spring of 2015 thanks to all the generous donations the Traveling Memorial Wall for Fallen Bikers, Inc. purchased an enclosed trailer to transport the Wall Panels to each event. On the side of the trailer are the names of businesses who have donated five hundred or more dollars to the Wall. The ramp door on the back of the trailer has memorial decals to honor the name of fallen bikers whose families have donated five hundred or more dollars to the Wall. The fourth Wall Panel was designed and donated by Mark and Mandy Hann and family and returning to its origin they had Donnie Dana airbrush the artwork. On July 25, 2015, as part of the second annual Bob Gleason Jr. Ole’ Bag Memorial Ride, the fourth Wall Panel was dedicated at the Cedar Pine in Redfield, NY. In late October 2015, due to the tragic passing of Scott Twitchell of Clifton Springs, the Traveling Memorial Wall for Fallen Bikers was given the honor of continuing Scott’s efforts of motorcycle awareness through his Governor’s Traffic Safety Grant.
In the spring of 2016 thanks to all the generous donations from families, businesses, and motorcycle clubs, the Traveling Memorial Wall for Fallen Bikers, Inc. purchased a pick-up truck to haul the trailer carrying the Wall panels to events. During the summer of 2016 the fifth Wall Panel which was again donated by Mark and Mandy Hann and family with Donnie Dana artwork was completed. On July 10, 2016, as part of the 60 for 60 Mohawk Run honoring John Condon, the fifth Wall Panel was dedicated at the Keg’s Canal Side in Jordan, NY. During the summer of 2016 the Wall appeared at many bike nights, dealerships, and dozens of motorcycle events allowing thousands of people to see the Wall. As a result of the Governor’s Safety Grant through the New York State Association of Traffic Safety Boards, 5,000 free yard signs were distributed, 20 double sided banners were given away, over 1,000 t-shirts, and thirty-two motorcycle awareness and safety education presentations were made in five different counties to over 1,000 students. Most importantly over the past four years motorcycle crashes in Oswego County decreased by 39.2 percent and none of those crashes involved a teen driver!
The dedication of Wall Panel 6 took place on July 9, 2017 as part of the 5th Annual, 60 for 60 The Mohawk Run honoring Shawn Michael Smith and Brandon Michaels Williamson at Keg’s Canal Side in Jordan, NY. The artwork was completed by Mike St. Pierre of STP Airbrush & Illustration in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. All of the finish work was again donated by Mark and Mandy Hann and family. On October 16th at the New York State Highway Safety Symposium, Wall President Bruce LePorte, was given the Richard “Dick” Novelli Award, for tireless dedication to furthering the principles of the STOP-DWI & Traffic Safety Programs though educating local and regional school and community groups about safe driving practices, particularly motorcycle safety. As a result of the Governor’s Safety Grant, 5,500 free yard signs were distributed, 45 double sided banners were given away, and fifty motorcycle awareness and safety education presentations were made in twelve different counties to over 1,500 students.
The dedication of Wall Panel 7 took place on July 8, 2018 as part of the 6th Annual, 60 for 60 The Mohawk Run honoring Joel “Spartacus” Waterman, Ed Fry, and “Fast” Fred Vogel at the American Legion in Hannibal, NY. The artwork was completed by Marcus Osmun of Acala Tattoo & Design in Clay, NY. All of the finish work was again donated by Mark and Mandy Hann and family. In 2018 New York State passed a law making it mandatory for all driver education classes to teach motorcycle awareness. As a result of the Governor’s Safety Grant, we introduced the pink yard sign for women riders, 6,000 free yard signs were distributed, 15 double sided banners were given away, and seventy motorcycle awareness and safety education presentations were made in sixteen different counties to over 1,800 students.
The dedication of Wall Panel 8 took place on August 25, 2019 at Dominick's Sports Tavern Scriba, NY. The artwork was completed by Bob Giacobbi Sr. of V Grafix Airbrushing & Bodywork in Clay, NY. All of the finish work was donated by Justin Hann of Bare Knuckle Customs in Hastings, NY. As a result of the Governor’s Safety Grant, 6,000 free yard signs were distributed, 20 double sided banners were given away, seventy-two motorcycle awareness and safety education presentations were made in fourteen different counties to over 2,200 students.
The Traveling Memorial Wall for Fallen Bikers can be requested for your event on a first come first served basis. Please contact Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our facebook page.