Motorcycle run July 13 to honor fallen guardsmen
It's been more than a year since Ohio National Guardsmen Shawn Hannon, Jeffrey Rieck and Nick Rozanski were killed in action in Afghanistan.
The men killed April 4, 2012, in a suicide bomb attack are still fresh in the minds of many and a few are organizing a July 13 event to honor them.
Maj. Jeff Leslie was assigned to the Rozanski family as the casualty assistance officer by the Ohio Army National Guard and he is organizing a motorcycle ride to benefit the Nick Rozanski Memorial Foundation and remember the three central Ohio Guardsmen.
"I figured this motorcycle run would be a great way to raise money for Nick's scholarship fund, but more importantly it would be a great way to keep alive the memory of the three soldiers that were killed in action as well as the sacrifice their families have made," Leslie said.
In civilian life, Leslie is a police officer for the Akron Police Department and works in the motorcycle unit.
"I have worked several charity motorcycle runs as a police escort so I am familiar with how they work and how popular they are and (are) a good way to raise awareness for a cause and money as well," Leslie said.
He's never organized a motorcycle run before, but was willing to give it a shot in the memory of Rozanski, Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Rieck, of Columbus, and Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Hannon of Grove City.
The 55-mile ride will include a run from Plain City to Sunbury, a short ceremony and activities at Quaker Steak and Lube at Polaris.
Thomas Welch served with Rozanski and has been helping get the word out about the new event.
"He never really took himself seriously," Welch said of Rozanski.
"He was always joking around about everything," Welch said.
"We would sit and eat together and he was cracking jokes. He was just a really good guy. He loved his job and took it real seriously, but at the same time didn't take it too seriously."
Many others share the same good memories of Rozanski and are planning to attend the motorcycle run.
"I know the word is out about the event," Welch said.
A few people who don't own motorcycles have donated money, Leslie said.
The run will start at C&A Harley Davidson, 7610 Commerce Place, Plain City, and go to the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial in Sunbury for a short ceremony.
"It is a group ride and there will be a police escort," Leslie said.
"The ride will go through Dublin, right by the Dublin Cemetery where Nick Rozanski is buried," he said.
"It will then head out to Johnstown and from there go to up to the Fallen Heroes Memorial where we will stop the ride for a short ceremony where Jenny (Rozanski) and her daughters will lay a wreath at Nick's marker there."
The ride will end at Quaker Steak and Lube, 8500 Lyra Drive.
"At Quaker Steak, we will auction of a pair of Harley Davidson motorcycle jackets and also draw the winner of the 50/50 raffle," Leslie said.
The future of the ride hinges on the success of the inaugural event, Leslie said.
"I think with continued awareness this could be one of the more popular rides in the Columbus area," he said.
Registration for the ride is $30 or $45 for a rider and passenger and can be completed the day of the event.
For more information about the ride or the Nick Rozanski Memorial Foundation, visit rozanskimemorial.com.