Bikers Unite For First Annual Torch Ride For Special Olympics 

Sunday morning a group of motorcycle enthusiasts strapped their helmets on for the first Torch Ride to benefit Special Olympics. Kickstands went up at 9:30 sharp as more than 80 motorcycles made the trip from Rockland to Ellsworth and eventually ending up in Owls Head. The Torch Ride was the idea of Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy Larry Hesseltine. He presented that idea to some collegaues back in March at the special olympics conference. “That’s kind of how I came up with this idea,” says Hesseltine. “Because I love to ride my motorcycle and I’m a resident deputy for the island of Vinalhaven so I don’t get on my bike much and I thought this was an awesome opportunity to do both. To raise money for the special olympics and to ride my bike.”It’s the first year of the Torch Ride and Hesseltine says he’s more than pleased with the turnout. “We had 54 bikes this morning,” he says, “it looks like we’re picking up a few more along the way. We had 84 people register.”The Knox County Sheriff’s Department was joined by fellow deputies and staff from Penobscot, Somerset, and Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Departments. As well as the United Bikers of Maine and a few other very special guests. “We have some special olympians with us from Knox County. We’re going to meet another group from Hancock County at the City Hall.”For the riders having the olympians along made an already beautiful day even better. “It’s really awesome,” says Linda Jones of Warren. “It gives you a good feeling that you’re doing something worthwhile and doing something that you love as well and promoting something that you they love doing as well.”Francis Brandon was also riding for the cause. “I’m glad they could make it out with us. Too bad they can’t ride with us but this is just as good.”The olympians were eager to show their excitement and gratitude. Samantha Herring, a special olympian, says she’s grateful for the efforts of the riders. “I just think it’s really cool that all these people came out just to benefit us,” she says. “It just makes me feel really good that they appreciate us.”Hesseltine says his long term goal is to have every Sheriff’s department in the state get involved in the torch ride and hopefully raise thousands of dollars for the special olympics.