Bike enthusiasts from around the state will be converging on the Sunnyside Community Center this Saturday for an event honoring the late co-director of the Yakima Valley Wings Gold Wings Association Chapter.
The event, which will be similar to a poker run, will be honoring Charlotte Smith, who was the co-director of the Yakima Valley Gold Wings chapter, along with her husband Ron.
Charlotte died in a tragic motorcycle accident on Friday, May 13. Her stepson, Brad Smith, who lives in Grandview, recounted the events of the day. Brad said his parents were leaving their home at Desert Aire in Mattawa when they were hit by an oncoming vehicle. The couple was on their way to a motorcycle safety rally in Spokane when the accident occurred.
Charlotte later died at a hospital in Wenatchee while Brad's father recently was fitted for a prosthetic piece on his lower left leg after weeks of rehabilitation.
Brad said his parents had been married just shy of seven years, after meeting one another on the coast. The couple was to celebrate their wedding anniversary a week after the accident.
"They spent most of their time riding," said Brad of his parents.
The Smiths spent a lot of time in Arizona, where they organized a new Gold Wings chapter, said Brad.
Charlotte's love for motorcycles came from Brad's dad, who has been an avid bike enthusiast for more than 30 years.
The Yakima Valley Gold Wings chapter had been around for years, said Brad, and currently has 40 families who participate.
Brad said his father just was fitted for his prosthetic leg a week ago. Until early July, Ron had been in the hospital at Harborview Medical Center or Prosser Memorial Hospital before going to live with his son. Brad said his determined father just recently went back home to Mattawa. Brad said his dad plans to get back on his motorcycle soon and would like to start a motorcycle safety education program.
The accident showed Brad a lot about the caring of others.
"You learn a lot about community and you learn a lot about family (when something like this happens)," said Brad.
Brad emotionally recounted how within hours of the accident Gold Wing club members from across the state responded to help his family. Brad said the accident with his parents happened at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 13. He received a phone call to go to a hospital in Wenatchee.
"No one on the other end of the phone was sharing the severity of the accident," said Brad.
While Brad and his wife, Melodie, were traveling to Wenatchee, they received another phone call to go to Harborview because that was where his father was being taken. Brad contacted his stepsisters to attend to Charlotte, who was undergoing surgery at the Wenatchee hospital, where she later died.
Brad arrived at Harborview with none of the necessary paperwork needed for his father. But the members of the motorcycle group came to the aid of their fallen comrades. Brad said the group set up a relay that stretched across a great portion of the state, in which they carried the needed information for Brad's father and his stepmom to him and his stepsisters.
"They (the Gold Wings group) were there the entire time," said Brad.
Brad said it was the Yakima Valley Gold Wings chapter that decide to hold a memorial run in honor of his stepmom. The group delayed its Yakima Valley Fun Run following the accident.
"It just kind of took the wind out of our sails for that run," said Brad.
The group decided to hold the event later in the year and renamed it in honor of Charlotte, said Brad.
Representatives from the group will be onsite at the Sunnyside Community Center at South Hill Park, beginning at around 7 a.m. on Saturday. Riders of all kinds of different bikes are invited to take part in the event. Brad said there will be four legs to the run, which will go up through Naches Valley. The run itself is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. from the community center. There will be all sorts of prizes available.
Following the run, there will be a memorial in honor of Charlotte at the community center at 4 p.m. The memorial is open to the public, said Brad.
"We are hoping we will turn some of the tragedy into something positive," said Brad.