Sierah Joughin’s boyfriend said if she could witness the annual gathering of motorcyclists who ride in her memory to provide self-defense training for women, she’d be proud.
“She’d definitely love it, and not necessarily because it’s for her, but because of all the self defense classes we’ve done,” Josh Kolasinski said.
On Sunday, July 8, he’s expecting about 1,500 riders to congregate at the Harley Davidson dealership at 7960 W. Central Ave. in Toledo for the 3rd Annual Memorial Ride in Joughin’s honor. He said while the hour-long ride to the Fulton County Fairgrounds is a tribute to her, it’s also a way to help females protect themselves from assailants like James Worley, who was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Joughin in 2016.
The former rural Delta resident, who abducted the 20-year-old University of Toledo student during an evening bike ride near her Metamora home, is incarcerated, awaiting a death sentence for his crime.
The memorial ride begins at noon, and will wend its way to the county fairgrounds with Kolasinski leading the estimated 1,000 motorcycles. They will be escorted by Lenawee County, Mich., deputies also riding motorcycles, their way cleared by cooperating police and sheriff departments along the way.
“There will be about 10 miles of bikes. It’s really awesome to see,” Kolasinski said. “Some of the towns we ride through – last year, we had people lined on each side of the street.”
Sponsors include Baskin-Robbins, Harley Davidson of Toledo, APG, and Toledo Production Operations.
Once at the fairgrounds on State Route 108, the participants will enjoy a provided lunch and the music of the Harley Packer Band at the Veterans Pavilion. Over several hours there will also be commemorative T-shirts, gun raffles, 50/50 raffles, a tattoo raffle, and a silent auction.
Kolasinski said the memorial ride was started to involve fathers and husbands in honoring Joughin. “We wanted to get the guys involved. We wanted to honor Sierah’s memory and legacy, and try to make a difference,” he said.
All of the proceeds directly fund free self-defense classes for women. The two-hour classes are held twice each month in requested locations. Two of those sites are Sylvania Area Family Services and Lourdes University. Sign-ups are available on the Facebook page for Keeping Our Girls Safe, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization begun by Kolasinski.
The class instructors are Lt. John Roof of the Wauseon Police Department and John Pinkstaff of the Sylvania Police Department. Both are trained in martial arts.
The first hour of class delves into the legalities of self-defense. The second hour teaches women how to defend themselves and escape a potentially dangerous situation.
“They learn what to say and how to act if approached, and if it goes further, what necessary actions need to be taken,” Kolasinski said. “We keep it to around 20 people so we can make a two-hour class the most beneficial that we can.”
Since the classes began about 350 women have received training. Those attending a class are always advised to pursue additional defense training.
Harley-Davidson spokesperson Brittinee Huntley said some of Joughin’s family members and friends are customers, and requested the dealership get involved. “We wanted to do it for them and the community,” she said.
Kolasinski said he plans to keep the memorial ride a yearly tradition, “and hopefully it will get bigger and bigger. The support from the community is just amazing. I personally want them to know that this isn’t necessarily about me. The community is the backbone of what we do.”
Pre-registration for riders and passengers is available for $20 per person at kogsafe.com; the cost is $25 during registration from 9 a.m. to noon at the Harley Davidson dealership the day of the ride.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.