A memorial ride is underway Sunday in Queens to honor the youngest first responder who lost his life in the September 11th terror attacks and make sure the next generation doesn't forget him.
"For an 18-year-old youth to see such a catastrophic event unfold before his eyes and instead of turning away and running away, he about-faced and ran straight into danger," P.J. Marcel, the event coordinator for the organizers, the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said about Richard Allen Pearlman.
Through rain and gloomy clouds, for the third year in a row thousands of people are riding motorcycles from the Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park to the World Trade Center site.
Pearlman, a volunteer with the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps who was training to become an EMT, ran on foot to Ground Zero from his nearby job nearly 17 years ago. His employer ordered the teenager back for safety reasons, but Pearlman stayed at the scene to aid the wounded. He died when the South Tower collapsed in the attacks.
"He made sure that he was going to respond with 911, with emergency agencies, to help injured people," Marcel said. "Other children or youth would be running away, scared and not knowing what to do. So the message is education and early intervention training."
The volunteer corps said they were motivated to start the memorial ride after they realized many new recruits had no memory of 9/11. The ride also doubles as a fundraiser for the group.
The Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps said the ride is open to all and was expected to bring more than 2,000 motorcyclists, including many New York City first responders. The route will take riders over the 59th Street Bridge before passing by the World Trade Center.
Organizers held a memorial ceremony earlier in the day to honor Pearlman and everyone else who lost their lives in the attacks.