RIDGWAY – Community members are invited to gather at the Dennis Weaver Memorial Park at noon this Saturday, Feb. 15 to celebrate Axel Charrette Day, and to dedicate a plaque in honor of Axel’s life.
Festivities will take place at the Axel Loop trailhead, named for the Ridgway toddler who was murdered in Mexico last spring while on a cycling and experiential learning adventure with his family.
Ridgway Mayor John Clark organized the celebration, which falls on the day that Axel would have turned 3. “It will be pretty simple and nothing elaborate,” Clark said. “After the terrible tragedy last year I felt the town should do something, and suggested that we name his birthday, Feb. 15, as Axel Charrette Day. I wanted to do something to recognize Axel.”
Clark and Axel’s father Randy Charrette will both say a few words at the ceremony, after which there will be a short bicycle ride on the Axel Loop for anyone who wants to participate, weather permitting.
As a way of memorializing their son, Randy and his wife Jen Charrette launched the Axel Project last June, a fledgling organization that gives away Strider bikes to charitable organizations and distributes the pedal-less bikes-for-tots at cost through sales at cycling events.
Axel, an energetic and free-spirited tyke, was a master of his own beloved Strider bike, and the Charrettes could think of no better way of keeping their son’s spirit alive than through giving other young children the freedom and independence that comes with a pedal-less bike.
The project is building steam; in its first eight months, 50 Striders have been donated to various individuals and organizations around the country.
The Charrettes have a busy calendar in the months ahead, attending various cycling events to promote the Axel Project. They will be at all seven stops of this summer’s USA Pro Tour in Colorado, as well as the Tour of Utah and Ride the Rockies.
Family friends Darcy and Michael Thomas of Ridgway Family Dentistry have also worked with Ride the Rockies to organize a “Team Axel” in the upcoming ride this summer.
The first 10 people who register for Ride the Rockies with Team Axel get guaranteed entries, and cycling jerseys from retired pro rider George Hincapie, emblazoned with both the Hincapie Sports Wear and Team Axel logos.
The Thomases also helped organize a “Team Axel” for last fall’s Pedal the Plains ride in southeastern Colorado.
It all helps spread the word about the Axel Project and the zest for life that little Axel embodied.
“We can’t believe how this town has come together to support us and the organization in Axel’s memory,” Randy said.
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