Sedalia Fire Department Captain Donnie Sattler and his wife, professional artist Stefanie Aziere-Sattler, have combined their talents and professions to bring the Annual Sedalia Firefighters Local 103 Memorial Ride to a new level by creating a multifaceted Herofest to be hosted in Sedalia on Saturday.
The annual memorial ride began five years ago in memory of Sedalia Fire Department inspector/firefighter Rick Morris who died in the line-of-duty.
“It was a collaborative effort, between myself and (Donnie) and John Starke,” Stephanie told the Democrat. “John retired from the city water department and he’s ridden with the HOG group, and all the motorcycle guys here for years. He and my husband became friends probably a year or two before Rick’s death.”
The Sattlers approached Starke about having a ride before Morris’s death, and then afterward the decision was made to create the memorial ride. What they thought would attract maybe 25 people has grown to bring in hundreds of riders each year.
“It’s grown every year,” Stefanie said. “(The ride) is about 100 miles and they have a different route every year. It always starts at Liberty Park at the Memorial. It’s just a phenomenal sight … we didn’t expect anything like that. And then the volunteers come out in droves. It’s a pretty neat thing to see the community support people who give that kind of service.”
The funds raised by the ride go back to the Firefighter Memorial located on the south side of Liberty Park.
“There’s another phase of the memorial that they are doing,” she said. “They’ve divided it into different phases so that it could be added on to. They’re going to add another wall … there’s only room for a few more names on the front wall, so now they’re going to add a shorter wall on the other side, and have some bench seats and some lighting.”
The memorial ride proceeds also provide four scholarships a year to students entering into occupations of civil service, Stefanie added.
In prior years the Sattlers had people asked them why they didn’t have more activities going on during the day of the ride.
“When they leave here at 11 o’clock there’s a band out there and Boys & Girls Club comes and so it’s always pretty hyped up at the park,” Stefanie noted. “And then they leave, and then there’s all these people who don’t leave.”
After two years of resistance, Donnie finally agreed with Stefanie and Starke to expand the activities.
“My reluctance is because of how big it’s become,” Donnie said. “But the response has been positive, and I didn’t want it to get to other towns and someone else take the idea.”
Donnie added he wanted to have an event that would bring people in from all around the area.
“Let’s have something big in Sedalia, other than the fair,” he added.
Herofest is defined by Donnie as “an event to honor those willing to put their life on the line to save another”— including law enforcement, career and volunteer firefighters, active duty military and veterans, National Guard and EMS ground and air personnel.
The memorial ride departs at 11 a.m. from Liberty Park. This year the day’s events will now include the Midwest Hero Dash, a 5K run/walk event set to begin at 8 a.m., also leaving from the park.
The Hero Dash is Stefanie’s brainchild. She is the President of the Midwest Artists Coalition and a portion of the proceeds from the dash will benefit the coalition going toward helping art education students in Sedalia.
Stefanie said at present Lee Whited, local National Guard recruiter, said there will be 94 troops running in the dash not counting other participants.
Each of those in charge of the different aspects of Herofest have the opportunity to chose for a third of their proceeds to go toward the charity of their choice.
“Here’s what we’ve required,” Stefanie said. “Each event has to have a charity that they donate to. It’s a tiered system, a portion goes to Herofest, a portion goes to the charity of their choice and they pay their administrative fees with a portion. Everything from Herofest, a certain portion of those proceeds, goes back toward the memorial.”
On Saturday in downtown Sedalia, there will be an art show at the Liberty Center Association for the Arts, and people may also enter the Herofest Barbecue contest with prizes and plaques to be awarded for the Tastiest Chicken, Best Burger, Rampagin’ Ribs, and Best Dressed Hot Dog. Also downtown during the day there will be a car seat event and bicycle rodeo with the Sedalia Police Department in the SPD parking lot. The Pettis County Fire Department will demonstrate the “Jaws of Life,” there will be a Herofest General Store, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol will have their seat belt “convincer” on display.
Fitters 5th Street Brew Pub will provide live music, funnel cakes, corn dogs, lemonade, soda, and home brew beer.
Whiteman Air Force Base military working dogs will be on the Pettis County Courthouse lawn at 3 p.m. and Bernard Hayes, a Sedalia artist, will be providing hand-drawn portraits during the day, downtown.
The Sattler’s added that local photographer Kevin Walker will photograph the day’s events and will partner with John Rooks of JAM Marketing to produce a coffee table book for purchase.
Registration forms for the Fifth Annual Firefighter’s Ride may be picked up at SFD Headquarters, 2606 W. 16th St. Pre-registration is $15; and $20 the day of the ride. Registration forms for the Midwest Hero Dash are available at SFD headquarters, at the Pettis County Assessor’s Office or can be filled out online at raceroster.com/events/2014/2654/midwest-hero-dash. Fees are $25 before race day and $30 the day of. Those wishing to enter the Herofest Barbecue contest may call Dale Anson at 383-2277 or Donnie Sattler at 221-6790. A map of downtown events is also on the back of the Herofest flier.