• September 19, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

Ride remembers fallen 9/11 hero

First responder Richard Pearlman was part of FHVAC, died in attacks

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:19 pm, Thu Sep 19, 2019.

The inscription on the back of Mark Mystkowski’s T-shirt summed up the day in five simple words: “Ride Hard For The Fallen.”

Mystkowski, a first responder from Howard Beach, was one of an estimated 2,000 motorcyclists who came from near and far on Sunday to pay tribute to fellow Howard Beach resident Richard Pearlman, who lost his life at the age of 18 in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

The fourth annual “Run for Richie” kicked off at Aqueduct Race Track, taking its participants to the World Trade Center and back.

“It’s great to know people truly haven’t forgotten,” Mystkowski said, moments before the police-escorted trek got underway. “This ride gets bigger and bigger. It’s truly nice to see that. Everybody sticks together; everybody’s one whole unit.”

To make way for the event, an estimated 65 miles of New York City roads were closed, according to Paul “PJ” Marcel, who came up with the idea for the ride years ago.

Marcel is president of the Punishers Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club New York chapter, a not-for-profit organization consisting of current and retired police officers, firemen, EMTs and military members, among others.

“There’s no way September 11 will be forgotten,” he told the crowd at a welcoming ceremony prior to the ride. “We’re losing too many heroes day by day.”

He was joined on stage by Alan Wolfe, co-chief of the ride with Marcel and vice president of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which benefits from the proceeds of the event.

“It memorializes those people lost on September 11, specifically Richard Pearlman,” Wolfe said.

Pearlman, whose parents, sister and brother-in-law were in attendance, was a member of the FHVAC who dreamed of becoming an emergency medical technician.

On the fateful day in 2001, Pearlman, working as a messenger for a law firm, was dropping off paperwork at 1 Police Plaza in Lower Manhattan when he heard an all-hands-on-deck call go out on his radio. The last time anyone saw him alive, he was putting his talents and what he had learned at the FHVAC to good use — helping a bloodied woman out of the South Tower.

Marcel sees the ride as a way of honoring the life of his friend and fellow motorcycle buff.

Unlike last year, when inclement weather kept the crowds to a relative minimum (an estimated 500 devotees took part despite the rain), Sunday’s conditions were picture perfect. Participants came from as far away as Alaska, California and Texas, the total number being the largest to date, according to Marcel.

“The youth of today have no idea what September 11 is about,” he said. “As we slowly retire, we need to keep the spirit alive.”

Helping the cause was Jennifer Provence, a Howard Beach resident who brought her two children, Jackson, 5, and Mason, 4, to witness the event.

“They need to understand the importance of it,” she said of the September 11 attack. The ride, she added, was “in honor of someone who passed away. All these people came out because they loved him and they love America.”

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