Bikers ride across RI in honor of fallen veteran
By: Amanda Pitts
CRANSTON, R.I. (WLNE) – More than 200 bikers braved the cool, wet weather Sunday for the 11th annual Ronnie’s Ride, honoring a local veteran who died in the line of duty.
The group rode their motorcycles across Rhode Island, totaling 100 miles, for Ronnie Gil Jr.
Gil, a member of the Coast Guard, was killed in the line of duty in March of 2007 while conducting operations north of Vashon Island in Puget Sound, Washington. He was ejected from a 25-foot Defender Class Boat, sustaining deadly injuries.
Ron Gil Sr., Ronnie’s dad, has put on the annual ride for 11 years to honor his son.
“It started out with friends and family, and now we just have more friends and bigger family.”
The ride started at Cranston High School West, where Ronnie graduated. The bikers then rode to Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery in Exeter for a memorial service. Then, the group headed to Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett.
“This is not a day that you’d expect to see a couple hundred bikes out, cause it’s such a crappy day. It’s cold, it’s raw, but they’re here. Time and time again,” said Gil Sr.
The ride ended with lunch at the Cranston Country Club. It’s all to raise money for the Ronald Gill Jr. Memorial Scholarship Foundation, that’s given out more than $300,000 in scholarships to local students.
“We didn’t want his death to be, to die in vain, and we just decided we’re gonna do something and we started a foundation.”
Seeing the number of bikers grow each year means a lot to the Gil family, who lead the ride along with a police escort.
Local police departments and military officers joining in on the ride, the family says, makes it that much more special.
“Both of those groups are here to honor him year after year. There’s a connection, whether it’s military or police, the respect that they give to honor a veteran. They’re here and that’s what we really appreciate.”
For details on the foundation and upcoming fundraisers, click here.
© WLNE-TV 2019