The TallyCast

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82 Cyclists Participate in the Matthew Beard Memorial Bike Ride to the Sea

On a beautiful Saturday morning on 21 March 2009, 82 cyclists gathered to participate in a 32+mile bike ride to honor a Florida State University student who many had never met. The ride was to remember and honor all victims of DUI but was dedicated to Matt Beard, a 21-year-old marine biology major who was killed by a drunk driver in Palm Beach county over winter break 2006. Matt was an avid SCUBA diver who was passionate about coral reefs and had planned to dive with friends before heading back to his mother’s house for the holidays. Unfortunately the car that Matt was traveling in (he was in the back seat with his seatbelt on) was slammed by a car driven by a 21-year-old who had a .13 blood alcohol level.

Connie Beard, “Matt’s Mom” (as she likes to call herself), remains heartbroken over the tragedy that took her only child’s life. Connie speaks against drunk driving regularly and helps educate people on the dangers of driving while intoxicated. She was impressed with the turnout of Tallahassee area cyclists in the bike ride on the St. Mark’s Trail, part of the Rails to Trails program. Major Jim Russell of the FSU Police Department organized the annual event then took Connie on a DUI ride-along later that day. All participants received event t-shirts and the event was free of charge.

Cyclists came from as far away as Ft. Walton Beach and the Orlando area to participate. Everyone met at the main trailhead in Tallahassee and listened to Connie Beard speak about her son Matt before cycling to the coast. People had a chance to toss carnations into the river in memory of anyone they lost to DUI crashes. Lucy Paine, Matt’s girlfriend of more than 5 years, also made the trip to Tallahassee and cycled with Gabrielle, Matt’s former divemaster at the FSU Academic Diving Program. Also in attendance was Connie’s close friend Wendy Bierberle, whose 16-year-old son Cameron died in a tragedy last year. Now both moms work to educate young people on making good choices to save lives. The duo will be back in Tallahassee to speak at a press conference in on March 30 for the Proclamation of Safe Teen Drving Week to talk about their sons and their loss.

The annual event to increase DUI awareness and honor Matt Beard and others lost to DUI was a great success and next year promises to be even better!

Photo Courtesy of Connie Beard- Cyclists at Matthew Beard Memorial Bike Ride to the Sea
Photo Courtesy of Connie Beard- Cyclists at Matthew Beard Memorial Bike Ride to the SeaPhoto Courtesy of Connie Beard- Left to Right: Lucy Paine, Connie Beard, Gabrielle, Wendy Bierberle

Photo Courtesy of Connie Beard- Left to Right: Lucy Paine, Connie Beard, Gabrielle, Wendy Bierberle

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2 Comments

  1. I am Lucy’s Dad and I am glad she is continuing to participate in this. I would if I were closer. I have been grateful for the support she has gotten from friends including “Nyssa”, Matt’s fellow scientist, who helped Lucy a lot in 2007.

  2. Thanks so much for your posting, Stephen. Lucy is an amazing girl and I know you must be so proud of her!

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