NORWOOD — For the past eight years, Jake Clark memorialized the life of his best friend with an annual ATV run.
“He was one of my best friends at the time,” Mr. Clark said. “He was always hunting and fishing and riding.”
Mr. Clark’s friend, Dustin M. Berger, died in a cabin fire on April 13, 2010. He was 15 years old.
That enduring friendship and dedication was put to the test this year by the continuing coronavirus pandemic and threatening skies, but Mr. Clark and close to 300 ATV riders came together for the eighth annual Dustin M. Berger Memorial Ride at the Norwood American Legion.
“I am honestly surprised,” Mr. Clark said as off-road recreational vehicles of all sizes piled into the spacious parking lot and field in front of the Legion. “It’s starting to look like a couple of our past years.”
The annual ride’s proceeds goes to a different benefactor each year. Past recipients have been the Norwood Volunteer Fire Department, the Norwood American Legion and the Norfolk Rod and Gun Club.
This year the approximately $3,000 will go to area food pantries.
“We figured it would be helpful with so many people out of work,” Mr. Clark said.
Mr. Clark’s mother, Kelly A. Beach, takes part in the ride every year.
“It brings the community together. He was a good kid,” she said of Mr. Berger.
People checking riders in were wearing masks and Mr. Clark said he was encouraging people to stay outside and practice social distancing.
He had portable toilets installed at the Legion to keep people from constantly going inside.
The ride started at 10 a.m. and would take the riders over the county all-purpose trail system to the American Legion in Brushton.
When riders returned to Norwood, the annual after-ride meal was served outside.