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Motorcyclists honor Christopher Shane Nicholson

October 11, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

SMITHSBURG -- In a tribute to a fallen young police officer, around 300 motorcyclists traveled a roughly 60-mile road rife with significance.

The group rolled out of Veterans Park Saturday morning through Smithsburg, where Officer Christopher Shane Nicholson served the police department.

They passed by Children's Village in Hagerstown, where he instructed area youngsters in safety education.

They ambled through the Blairs Valley area, where Nicholson hunted and fished with family and friends, and then passed Williamsport High School where he had worked toward his eventual career in law enforcement.

Finally, the procession of motorcyclists paid their respects to Nicholson as they passed by Greenlawn Memorial Park, where, at age 25, he was laid to rest.

Maryland Chapter 2 of the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club organized the Christopher Nicholson Law Ride in honor of the police officer, who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Dec. 19, 2007.

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Club President Mike Barnhart said the group wanted to honor Nicholson's memory and promote the law enforcement community.

"There is not a lot done in the Washington County area to promote people who carry a badge and a gun every day," said Barnhart, 64, of Hagerstown.

Event registration cost $25. Barnhart said he anticipated the ride would raise between $5,000 and $8,000 for the Christopher Nicholson Memorial and Scholarship Fund. The fund, in part, will provide scholarships for students pursuing careers in law enforcement.

Barnhart said Nicholson was "well-liked" and "community-oriented." The young officer directed traffic when Smithsburg High School students were dismissed each day and got to know them.

"When high school kids come out singing at your wake, you know you are well thought of," Barnhart said. "The students liked him. He knew them by name, he talked to them and treated them fairly. That's a missing attribute in a lot of young officers. It's a shame we lost such a good officer so early in his career."

Nicholson's mother, Karen Highbarger, said Saturday was an emotional day as she listened to stories of how her son had touched the lives of people he met.

"Having this many people here and hearing these stories is wonderful," Highbarger said. "I always knew Chris was special, but I never realized how special."

Robin Leeney of Smithsburg said she and her family met Nicholson through his service as a police officer. Nicholson went on to help Leeney's son, Travis, through a difficult time in his life.

"(Nicholson) basically walked (Travis) through that summer, got him through it," Leeney said. "He'd say, 'Travis, you'll be all right.' There was a lot of trust between him and the kids of this town."

Nicholson's father, Larry Nicholson, lamented that his son did not get more time to serve as a police officer.

"He was perfect for this job. He wouldn't have done anything else," Larry Nicholson said through tears. "Obviously, the whole family is more than proud of what he's done, what he stood for."

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