Riders at poker run honor sheriff’s sergeant who died

MORGANTOWN — MountainFest may be over, but another large group of Harley-Davidson motorcycles rumbled through Morgantown on Saturday afternoon, this time in honor of a fallen friend.

For the seventh straight year, Triple S Harley-Davidson hosted the Sgt. Michael Todd May Poker Run to raise money for the Michael Todd May Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“Todd was an avid motorcycle rider, and a lot of his friends are as well, so this seemed like the best thing we could do to remember him,” said Nick DeMedici, director of Training at Defense in Depth and a part of the Michael Todd May Memorial Scholarship committee.

Sgt. Todd May was killed in the line of duty Feb. 18, 2012.

A poker run is an event where a group of motorcycle riders visit a number of checkpoints throughout a designated route. At each checkpoint, each rider will draw a random playing card. The rider with the best poker hand at the end of the route wins a prize.

In this case, the best hand won $1,000, while second place won $500.

“After he was killed, we decided that this would be a great way to raise money for the scholarship foundation, by doing something that he loved to do and that we loved to do,” DeMedici said.

Each rider and passenger contributed $20 apiece to the scholarship fund. After the poker run, the band MoonlightDrive put on a free concert for those in attendance at Triple S.

Prior to the start of the ride at noon, Jamie Thayer-Burch, the director of the West Virginia chapter of A Hero’s Welcome, presented May’s parents, Franklin and Catherine May, and other family members with an Honor and Sacrifice flag.

“It means a lot. It keeps his spirit alive. It’s bittersweet, but it’s good because he’s still being remembered,” Franklin said.

Franklin said he didn’t ride motorcycles himself, but that Todd always told him how much he loved the freedom of being out there on the open road on his bike.

Todd and some of the other deputies from the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department would often go on long motorcycle trips to places like Florida.

However, Catherine was never very fond of Todd riding, especially after he had a hip replacement.

But, like most parents can attest, kids always go against their parents’ wishes.

“He loved it too much,” she said.

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