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Ride honors Nicholson

Proceeds from event will fund scholarships, benefit Children's Village

Proceeds from event will fund scholarships, benefit Children's Village

October 10, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Patrol cars ushered a procession of more than 200 motorcycles along a 57-mile course Saturday in remembrance of slain Smithsburg Police Officer Christopher Shane Nicholson.

The eerie wail of the patrol car siren contrasted the grand presence of the motorcade.

The contrast might have been an apt representation of Nicholson's response to the Christopher Nicholson Memorial Law Ride had he been alive to witness it.

Those who knew Nicholson well -- including his parents and his fiancee -- said he would have been embarrassed by all of the attention. At the same time, he would have been pleased with its positive effects.

Desiree Grimes, 29, of Sharpsburg, was engaged to Nicholson when he was shot and killed in the line of duty on Dec. 19, 2007.

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"He'd think we are making too much of a fuss over him. That's just the type of person he was," Grimes said. "But he would've loved the fact that people are pulling together for a good cause. He would've been impressed."

Half of the proceeds from the event will fund scholarships for students who plan to study law enforcement. The other half will be donated to Children's Village of Washington County, where Nicholson was an instructor.

Maryland Chapter 2 of the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club organized the second annual ride. Mike Barnhart, president of the chapter, said he anticipated the event would raise about $6,000. Riders paid $25 to register. In addition, sponsors paid $200 each, which covered the cost of a meal and live musical entertainment for participants following the ride.

Barnhart said he worked with Nicholson's family to determine the route of the memorial ride, incorporating sites that were significant to Nicholson.

Riders departed at 11 a.m. from Veterans Park in Smithsburg, where Nicholson served on the police force.

They rode past Children's Village in Hagerstown, to Mercersburg, Pa., and through Blairs Valley, where Nicholson liked to hunt and fish with his father and brothers. They passed Williamsport High School, Nicholson's alma mater, and his grave site at Greenlawn Memorial Park, then gathered at the Williamsport Red Men Club.

Nicholson's mother, Karen Highbarger, went to the grave site to lay a wreath and to wave at the riders as they passed by.

"It's emotional. I'm overwhelmed by all the drivers that came out today. It puts me at a loss for words," Highbarger said. "I always say it's bittersweet. It's a wonderful feeling to know they are all riding to honor my son."

Barnhart said Blue Knights attended the ride from West Virginia; Roanoke, Va.; Annapolis; and Harrisburg, Pa. Motor officers from Montgomery County (Md.) Police Department, Latimore Township (Pa.) Police Department and the Frederick County (Md.) Sheriff's Department guided the procession.

Charles Stanford was Smithsburg's police chief when Nicholson was killed. He remembered Nicholson as "a servant to the public."

"Christopher was a police officer for the citizens," Stanford said. "He was truly concerned about them. He had patience with kids and they could sense that."

Grimes said Nicholson always wanted to be a police officer and that he "loved his job." She said he worked around asthma and a heart condition to fulfill his dream of working in law enforcement.

"It didn't matter what type of situation he was in. He was always out to protect somebody else. Most people have some selfishness to them, but he had none," Grimes said. "I miss him. I would do anything to have him back. He was my hero."

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