KALAMAZOO, MICH. - It was an emotional day in Kalamazoo as the community remembered five bike riders killed a year ago.
Tony Nelson, Larry Paulik, Debra Bradley, Melissa Fevig Hughes, and Suzanne Sippel all lost their lives when a truck crashed through a group of bike riders last June.
On Wednesday, those with St. Thomas More held a memorial mass to honor those lost. The survivors of the crash decided to do the same by finishing the ride they started with those killed, a year ago. The survivors were joined by hundreds of cyclists as the inaugural, 'Finish the Ride' memorial.
"I think in some way we want to do this for the first responders so they can see how far we've come because they did such a phenomenal job," survivor Jennifer Johnson said. "I can't even imagine a different situation so we're so grateful."
Grateful, that's how Michelle Houtrow feels, she lost her friend Debra Bradley in the crash.
"It was an honor to know her and to love her," she said. "It's just so nice to see the celebration and see everybody coming together out of such a horrible tragedy."
A sense of togetherness that resonates.
"We wanted to be here just show our support and prayers that we continually think of the people," Megan Michelozi, a Kalamazoo resident, who watched the memorial ride, said.
The funds raised at Wednesday's memorial will be used to build a physical memorial near the crash site. It will also be used to promote cycling safety and advocacy.
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