Rather than focus on the tragedy of her husband’s death, Carolyn Jones-Rogers has focused on raising awareness of the dangers of cell phone use while driving.
Jim Rogers, a prominent Nevada City cyclist who founded the Tour of Nevada City Bike Shop as a teenager, was killed Jan. 31, 2010, by a 55-year-old driver who was reportedly talking on her cell phone and struck Rogers while riding his bicycle along Highway 174 near the Bear River bridge.
“We’re trying to make good out of it,” Jones-Rogers said. “When you lose someone, you want to make sure nobody forgets about them, so every year when we ride, we think about him, and it’s also about not driving distracted.”
Saturday marks the fourth annual Jim Rogers Memorial Ride, which begins at 11 a.m. at the Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop at 457 Sacramento St. in Nevada City. It’s one of two weekend events in the region geared to remember a victim of a distracted-driving accident and educate others of the dangers involved with distracted driving.
The proceeds from the Rogers Memorial Ride will go to the Nevada Union mountain bike team, which runs the Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County Scholarship Fund.
“Nevada Union has a mountain bike team, and they somehow choose someone to give the scholarship to,” Jones-Rogers said. “Last year, I think it was a couple hundred dollars. This year, I’m hoping to get a little more.”
The passion and influence Rogers had for biking led to the creation of the Jim Rogers Inspiration Award.
“It’s for the cyclist on the mountain bike team that acts most like Jim, as far as being patient and kind and supporting the others on the team,” Jones-Rogers said.
Another way Jones-Rogers raises awareness is through school assemblies, dozens of which she has hosted with her son, Nate.
“We’ve done distracted-driving assemblies with Colfax High School, Bear River and, of course, Nevada Union,” Jones-Rogers said.
The deep passion for cycling Rogers had is something to be remembered, family friend Karen Wallack-Eisen said.
“When I first met Jim, his old roommate would tell me Jim would come back from a bike ride, and he’s be all sweaty and dirty, and he would have such a grin on his face,” she said. “It’s hard to explain, but it was his passion.”
Last year’s event brought 200 riders, and about 175 people purchased sandwiches.
“I’m hoping it’ll be sunny and warm, and we’ll get even more people this year,” Jones-Rogers said.
The event is also to focus on the passion for bike riding others share with Jim.
“The main thing about the ride is that we want people to love riding,” Jones-Rogers said. “Some people say that Jim was the goodwill ambassador of cycling, so it’s really important to me that people come to the ride thinking, ‘We love cycling, this makes us happy, we’re going to share Jim’s love and passion for riding.’”
The advanced riders who participate share Rogers’ generous and helpful spirit by assisting the less experienced riders, Jones-Rogers said.
“The whole point of them being there is to be like Jim and be goodwill ambassadors,” Jones-Rogers said. “The big, fancy cyclists will often help the stragglers and loop back around. It’s all about being kind and helpful. It’s a really good feeling.”
Another way the anti-distracted-driving sentiment is spread is in the form of stickers, created by Wallack-Eisen, which bear the symbol of a stop sign and the message not to use your cell phone while driving.
“Jim is the reason my son, Julian, was even on a bicycle,” Wallack-Eisen said. “He became an accomplished cyclist, and Jim basically taught him how to ride a road bike, so we’ve been very connected.”
Rogers died the day before Julian’s birthday, which was crippling news, Wallack-Eisen said about when she woke her son on his birthday to tell him about the fatal accident.
“Julian’s birthday is Feb. 1, and I had to wake him up to tell him that Jim passed,” Wallack-Eisen said. “It’s always bittersweet with Jim’s passing and his birthday.”
“It’s just tragic that people need something like a death to take notice (of the dangers of distracted driving),” Wallack-Eisen said. “The more people we can alert and educate, the better. Whatever it takes, cell phone stickers or even putting the sticker on your dashboard reminds people to use the rules of the road because that’s a big deal, not only for people in cars but people on bikes as well. Even if no traffic is coming, you’re on wheels. Pay attention.”
For information on Saturday’s ride, call 530-478-1599 or 530-588-4844 or email email@example.com.
The life of Jim Rogers will remain in the memory of the many lives he touched, Wallack-Eisen said.
“The first year he passed, his memorial at the Miner’s Foundry was a statement in itself,” Wallack-Eisen said. “There were 1,000 people. He touched the community. His cycling career was known not just in Nevada County, but people knew him from all over the place, and we just vowed to take on this ride every year. It’s a reminder for everybody.”
33rd Sweetheart Run
Another event to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving is the 33rd annual Sweetheart Run in Auburn, where motorcyclists come together to memorialize the death of Joe Pratt, nephew of event founders Emma and Carlo Lujan. Pratt’s life was lost after his car was hit by a distracted driver.
The registration cost for the event is $5.
“The funds are raised for distracted driving and awareness for people to get off their phones and not text while driving,” said Emma Lujan, who co-owns C&E Auburn V-Twin motorcycle shop.
Each year, motorcyclists come together and raise money for worthy causes, Lujan said, and this year, the donations will go toward medical bills for 7-year-old Peyton Krasner, who has a cancerous tumor behind his eye.
“When the whole thing started, I quit working, and I haven’t worked since August. That’s when we first found out, and they did a surgery to do a biopsy,” said Peyton’s father, Jason. “It’ll help us pay the medical bills and catch up on other bills because of the medical bills.”
Registration for the Sweetheart Run will begin 10 a.m. Sunday at C&E Auburn V-Twin at 12015 Shale Ridge Road in Auburn. The motorcycles will take off at noon. For information, call (530) 885-5556 or visithttp://auburnvtwin.com
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4230.