What: Eighth annual Kacie’s Ride for Hope
Who: Pat Barron — Kacie’s brother
Where: Main Street in Placerville, Mormon Emigrant Trail to Hope Valley and ending in Diamond Springs
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, registration is from 8 to 10 a.m.
Cost: Solitary bikers $25 and a couple $45, $10 for the barbecue only
Information: kaciesrideforhope.com or call Pat Barron at 530-626-8405
With her long blond hair, black cowboy boots, faded blue jeans and silver studded belt — make no mistake: Penny Sneed looks good on a Harley.
But it’s not the dashing figure she cuts on a big bike that gets her out year after year to the Kacie’s Ride for Hope motorcycle run.
Rather, Penny Sneed is inspired by how the other bikers look.
“Seeing the faces of people you think are so hard, to see the softness that comes over them from knowing what they are doing is making a difference — that’s why I do it,” said the 42-year-old Pleasant Valley woman who has been a part of Kacie’s Ride for Hope since the second year of the benefit event. The annual ride is set to roar into its eighth run Saturday, Sept. 14.
Kacie’s Ride for Hope was begun by Placerville’s Pat Barron, 52, whose younger sister Kacie Barron was killed as a result of domestic violence on a summer day in Placerville some seven years ago.
The man who shot her to death, a boyfriend with whom she had broken up, lives out the remaining years of his life behind the walls of a state prison, having been convicted of the July 2006 murder.
As a way of dealing with the deeply personal loss of his sister, Barron that year began the annual motorcycle run, which drew about 100 riders at its beginning and now sees three or four times that number, to raise money for the prevention of domestic violence.
Proceeds each year go to help support El Dorado County’s Center for Violence-free Relationships, formerly the Women’s Center.
Penny Sneed has ridden motorcycles since she was a kid, knee-high to other riders, and in recent years has been spotted on the annual Kacie’s Ride on board her black Harley-Davidson 2000 Sportster Custom.
In fact, the purple T-shirt she wore recently while telling her story bears a picture showing her and Pat Barron in the rowdy-looking crowd of bikers getting ready to roll out of Placerville last year.
Sneed met Pat in church.
“I was sitting there and I overheard a guy (who turned out to be Pat) talking to a woman about Kacie’s Ride, telling her what it was all about. I immediately asked him if I could be a part of it,” Sneed recalled. “Having experienced violence myself from childhood, with my father abusing my mom, and then later in my own relationships, I knew it was something I wanted to do.”
And so she has, with Sneed now being the highly successful marketing event and raffle coordinator for Kacie’s Ride.
“I’m very dedicated to what we’re doing each year,” she said.
Kacie’s Ride for Hope begins in Placerville, then takes motorcycle riders on a gorgeous run that includes Mormon Emigrant Trail out to Hope Valley. It ends in Diamond Springs with a big barbecue that includes a live band, bike show and lots of raffle prizes. Donations have come from generous local merchants, with a special nod to Camino Outdoor Power, and even from motorcycle enthusiast magazines. Check out the full details online at kaciesrideforhope.com.
While Penny Sneed escaped from violent situations with past men in her life, she said her life today is not free of the pain and chaos caused by domestic violence.
In fact, she and her husband Dan Sneed have taken Penny’s two nephews, ages 10 and 11, into their home in the wake of a desperate situation involving the boys’ mother whose life is suffering badly from drugs and violence, according to Penny,
“The boys have been here three years this month — and I believe they’ll be here forever,” said Penny, her face softening as she spoke of Amos and Jacob. The youngsters could no longer live with their mother, the courts decided, due to influences in their Oroville home that presented a danger to the boys. Aunt Penny stepped up and opened her arms to her nephews, who said they are happy to feel safe and secure for the first time in their young lives.
“There are a lot more trees than where I used to live,” said Amos, when asked about the biggest difference in moving to a new town. The 11-year-old was then asked whether he will be riding in this year’s Kacie’s Ride for Hope, and he laughed and replied, “No, but I like that they help fight violence and stuff. And I like the burgers.”
“They have lots of fun and lots of soda,” younger brother Jacob piped in.
“It’s about fighting violence,” the 10-year-old boy added. “People don’t need to be hurt.”
Penny said she knows that her two young charges likely have been permanently affected by the violence that already has stained their existence, but because of the kind of people who dedicate their time and energy to the annual motorcycle run to fight domestic violence, she has hope.
“The boys are really coming around,” she reflected. “This event has helped me a lot, to get out of a box and become part of a community that’s trying to make a difference. It’s huge for me. I think that I haven’t really realized that it was having such an impact on me, like it has.
“You don’t realize what you have buried in life,” she said, referring to her own painful past.
“It has made me so much stronger,” she said.
Penny Sneed said she cherishes the day she heard Pat Barron’s voice in church and decided to ask to be a part of Kacie’s Ride.
“I love Pat to pieces. He let me be a part of this, almost since day one and it means the world to me.”
It’s a day Pat Barron will remember as well.
“Penny is my strong right hand,” said Barron. “She’s literally been my other half, with skills that I just don’t have to get people to donate merchandise for the raffle. I don’t know how she does it.”
Barron added that he is very grateful to the merchants and to all who participate in the annual biker run against domestic violence, saying he realizes “it takes an army” to throw a successful event such as Kacie’s Ride for Hope.
In addition to the hundreds of motorcycle riders, Barron said he is always gratified to see the crowd of spectators who come out to support the effort, cheering-on the leather-clad throng as they leave Placerville and showing up to partake of the barbecue in Diamond Springs.
It’s not too late to ride in this year’s run. Solitary bikers pay $25, while $45 will pay for a couple. Registration, from 8 to 10 a.m., is being taken right up to the start of the Saturday ride, which begins at the Belltower on Main Street in Placerville.
Those wanting to take advantage of a premiere barbecue and congratulate the bikers may attend that event for $10 a head.
Check for more details online at kaciesrideforhope.com or call Pat Barron at 530-626-8405.