Postponed due to COVID-19, and not having been run at all in 2020, the Shady Brady Fallen Firefighter Ride saw several motorcyclists line up, on Oct. 16, 2021, in support of a fund that provides support to the families of fallen firefighters across the state of Tennessee.
The later date – the ride is traditionally held in mid-September – called for cooler temperatures which resulted in less riders than typical, but that didn’t stop each fallen firefighter from being represented. Tags for firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty were created by event organizers and distributed to riders so that all of Tennessee’s 247 fallen firefighters had someone riding in their honor.
Each rider was given a “Shady Brady” patch for their jacket as well as a small patch designating each year they have participated in the ride, which has been happening annually since 2015. The ride, which was initiated by late Sparta fire captain Barry Brady, was renamed the “Shady Brady” in his honor, in 2019.
Each year, in addition to patches and tags for fallen firefighters, riders are given a coin for the year’s challenge. This year, the challenge is to support suicide awareness as the number of deaths by suicide for firefighters and emergency workers nationwide has had a significant increase during the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing stress that first responders and health care workers have been under in the past 18 months.
The ride departed at 9 a.m., from the Sparta Fire Station #1, on Spring Street, and proceeded to McMinnville and then on to Lynchburg where many riders would leave the group because of forecasted inclement weather. Several riders planned to continue to Bell Buckle, as is tradition, and lay wreaths in honor of the fallen heroes.
While only 19 riders were registered for this year’s ride, the hope is that returning the ride to Sept. 17, in 2022, will bring the number of participants back up toward the usual 100 that participate.
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