In 1988, Ron Williams, a prominent Rutland attorney, was riding his motorcycle with some friends when he crashed. Within days, he had passed away due to injuries sustained in that accident.
The following year, a bunch of his friends, most of whom were members of a group known as the Southwest Chapter of Freedom of the Road for Vermont, organized a poker run in his memory and the "Ron Run" was born.
Following the original route that Williams and his friends were riding on that fateful day in 1988, this successful charity event traditionally starts at C & D Chopper in Center Rutland, moves through Rutland City, then up the mountain, west over Brandon Gap, along Route 30 south. For the first 15 years, the route continued on to Wells, ending at the estate of Dave and Linda Swanson.
A group called FOR-Vermont organized the "Ron Run" through the year 2000 when it disbanded. Starting in 2001, the Southwest Freedom Riders, a newly formed organization, dedicated to motorcycle safety, education, and community involvement-which boils down to a bunch of big-hearted bikers who like to raise money for charities-took up the reins; the Freedom Riders continued to provide a fun and exciting event, which has raised thousands of dollars for Ron Williams' two favorite charities: the Special Olympics and VINS, Vermont Institute of Natural Science.
Although the Ron Run has had different finishing lines in the past five years, most of its founding traditions have remained the same.
As a longtime participant, this writer can say that there are few experiences to top the feeling one gets when the bikes arrive at the party and all the special athletes are cheering for their biker friends. The athletes are always involved in the party and barbecue, and usually receive awards of some kind.
Now comes the twentieth anniversary of the Ron Williams Memorial Poker Run: The 2009 "Ron Run" will be held Sunday, July, and will start at C & D Chopper, Route 4, in Center Rutland. Sign-in is 9-10:30 a.m., and the cost (run and party included) is $12.50 per person or $20 for rider and passenger. For details, call 265-4547.