Melissa Frawley riding for the Johnson family
On Saturday, Aug. 25, Frawley, a City of Tonawanda native, and her friends, will embark on a 30 mile bike ride to help raise funds for the Johnson family of Wilson.
Titled the "Wheels of Compassion Bike Trek to Benefit The Johnson Family of Wilson, NY," Frawley, and other riders, will make a 30 mile bike trek from Cheektowaga to Wilson.
Already planning on a bike ride to Batavia, because that's where she first fell in love with bicycling, Frawley had the ride planned for several weeks as a way to celebrate her 41st birthday, which takes place on the Aug. 25. Frawley said she was looking to tie the ride into some type of fund raising event, but wasn't sure exactly what cause to ride for. When she heard about the Johnson family tragedy Frawley said it became a no-brainer who she should ride for.
"I already had the bike ride planned," Frawley said. "I wanted to do it for a cause, I just didn't have a particular cause in mind. Then when their tragedy occurred I thought it would be appropriate to do it for them."
With a target of $900, Frawley is not only looking for pledges, of ideally $1 per mile, she is also trying to get the word out to ask other riders to join her on this journey.
The first person to join Frawley is Johnson family friend J.B. Aaron, who became close to the family when Judith Johnson, a hospice nurse, cared for his mother. As of press time Frawley has nine riders joining her.
Frawley said the trek will get underway at 8 a.m., with riders leaving from the empty plaza near the old Dave and Adam's Card Shop located at Transit and Roll, with her brother Matt Frawley's home in Wilson as the finish line.
Frawley added that the ride will include a stop over at the sight of where the Johnson's home once stood. The bikers will not only observe a moment of silence in the Johnson family's honor, they will also release yellow balloons in memory of 14-year-old Sarah Johnson who lost her life in the horrific explosion.
Remembered as an outgoing girl who was full of life and cared for everyone she met, Sarah's favorite color was yellow.
Frawley said along with recognizing a moment of silence in honor of the family, it would also would show people first hand just how devastating the accident was. And how important it is for all of us to lend the Johnson family support during this unimaginable time of grief and loss.
Frawley added that even though she has never met the Johnson family she feels a connection to them.
With a 14-year-old daughter of her own, Katelynn, Melissa said that as a parent her heart is breaking for the Johnson's.
"MY daughter sounds similar to how their daughter (Sarah) was from what I've been reading. They sound so much alike. And just from a parents point of view I can't imagine what they're going through," Frawley said. "I don't know them but like everyone else, anything I can do to try and ease their struggles-because obviously it's going to be a huge road ahead of them. My heart just breaks for them as a parent. Just realizing the magnitude of what's happened to them. Every time you think about it you think about the more and more things that they have to deal with. They've lost everything...they have to completely start over on top of losing a child and a sister. It's human nature for that to kind of get to you."
The Wilson First Baptist Church will also be providing yellow shirts for the riders. The shirts will be for sale with money raised going to the Johnson family.
Flat rate donations of any amount are also gratefully welcomed. All checks can be made out to "the Johnson family fund."
Money raised will be deposited in the Johnson family fund account that is set up at First Niagara Bank.
For information on signing up to ride or donating, contact Melissa at 444-4814. Businesses wishing to make any kind of food or drink contribution to riders can also contact Frawley.