Letters to the Editor

Snoqualmie’s bike rodeo aims to keep terrible accident from repeating

Please join us for the 10th annual Tanner Jeans Memorial Bicycle Safety Rodeo, Saturday, June 7, at the Community Park in Snoqualmie.

Your children will learn bike safety at this interactive, instructional bicycle obstacle course created and led by your local Snoqualmie Police Department officers.

If you’re new to the area and wondering who Tanner Jeans is, allow me to share his story.

Tanner was a 7-year-old boy. He was filled with energy and curiosity. He was a Seahawks fan, played baseball and football and would jump and run everywhere. He loved riding his bike and always wore a helmet.

In this safe, beautiful neighborhood, Tanner enjoyed all the parks and smooth, flat riding trails. Tanner was happy and “all boy.” He was admired by his first-grade classmates and loved by his family and teachers.

Unfortunately, Tanner didn’t know the dangers of riding his bike through alleys. He tragically lost his life when he shot out of an alley on his bike. The driver couldn’t see him, and Tanner couldn’t stop and ran into the oncoming truck. Tanner’s family and community were devastated. The driver was going the speed limit and following the rules. He couldn’t see Tanner and couldn’t stop in time. The driver was devastated as well.

It was a terrible accident—one that many of us will never forget. And one we surely don’t want to see repeated.

With the support of the Jeans family, Laurie Gibbs founded the Tanner Jeans Memorial Foundation (TMJF) in 1993 to honor this wonderful boy’s life and make sure no one else lost their child in a bike accident. Money was raised and safety programs were taught in the elementary schools. The Snoqualmie Police Department was already conducting an annual Safety Fair, and officers thought partnering with the foundation would be a good idea. Thus the Bicycle Safety Rodeo began, and soon became the largest such rodeo in the state of Washington.

Kids of all ages learn the rules of biking and are given new helmets, have their bikes checked for safety and meet their local heroes—our police, EMTs and firefighters. Legends Car Club will show their cars and music will be performed by the band Locomotive. There are bounce houses, food, T-shirts, cotton candy, face painting, clowns and lots of entertainment.

Through the love of a family that lost their son, a wonderful annual tradition was created. Educating our youth how to ride their bicycles and creating a safer environment for all of our drivers.

The Tanner Jeans Memorial Foundation dissolved last year, but not before inspiring the naming of Tanner Jeans Field and Park. One more gift from Tanner is two scholarships to the University of Washington that will be given out to two students in Tanner’s graduating class of 2015.

Angel Tanner (as his mother calls him) is smiling down on us. If you see the purple butterfly bushes in the neighborhood, they are a reminder that Tanner’s spirit is with us—watching over our children on their bicycles.

Lanice Gillard

TJMF Secretary & Jeans Family Friend

 

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