Finish the Ride is the spirit of courage and determination to overcome tragedy despite apparently insurmountable odds. It’s a movement that will literally be heard around the world. Being part of Finish the Ride means you are taking part in something that will help change the streets of LA. Show others that you are doing something to make safe streets for bicyclists, pedestrians and everyone on the roads of LA.Join now and be part of the movement!
A beacon for change across LA, Finish the Ride was born out of horrific tragedy. On Sunday, February 17th, 2013, avid bicyclist for over 25 years and native of Los Angeles, Damian Kevitt and his wife were riding their bikes around the streets of Los Angeles and along the LA River Bike Path. Being environmentally conscious and enjoying nature, they chose to ride to get groceries before heading to Griffith Park to eat lunch and returning home.
Only a few hundred feet from their destination, with his wife riding behind him, Damian was struck by a light colored mini-van. Wearing a helmet, it would have been minor accident but, instead of stopping, the driver sped up to flee the accident. Damian ended up pinned underneath the mini-van as the driver drove onto the 5 Freeway to get away.
Damian desperately banged on the underside of the car, yelling for the driver to stop… but to no avail. Knowing that he had seconds to live or die, Damian managed to free himself and ended up laying in traffic lanes on the freeway. He was badly injured but alive.
Along with scores of broken bones, extensive tissue damage and road burns, the doctors had to amputate his right leg and were doubtful they could salvage his left leg. Damian’s friends and family rallied to his side but, as anyone there will tell you, it was Damian’s courage, spiritual strength and determination to help others that carried him though those darkest days just following the accident.
As word of the accident got out to millions in LA and tens of millions around the world, support from friends, associates and total strangers near and far poured in. While the worst of the trauma was behind him, Damian still had to get through months of surgeries and physical therapy before he could again walk, let alone possibly ride a bike.
It was at this time, laying in his hospital bed and unable to move, Damian vowed to not only finish the ride but to use his accident for the benefit of others and the city of LA.
“The only way I can ever bring closure to what happened to me is by taking the bad that occurred and turning it into something good – not just for one or two others but for my city of LA.” – Damian
And FINISH THE RIDE was born.
Friends, family and strangers wanted to finish the ride with Damian. When Damian was out of the hospital but still recovering and undergoing intensive physical therapy, he began planning. In January 2014, a synergistic partnership was formed with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC). Working with the dedicated and knowledgeable staff at LACBC, a FINISH THE RIDE cycling event was launched. In just a few short months, Damian would retrace his route from the Church of Scientology in Hollywood to Griffith Park. He would finish the ride that almost killed him.
The cry to end hit-and-runs reverberated across the Southland through television, radio, newspapers and thousands of Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and other social media.
Early morning on April 27th, over 700 riders and hundreds of well-wishers gathered. The ride was kicked off by Congressman Adam Schiff, State Assemblyman Mike Gatto, City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, City Councilman Tom LaBonge, Executive Director of the LACBC, Jennifer Klausner and, lastly, an impactful message from Damian. Spirits were high and the theme of the event was clear: traffic safety and handling hit and run crimes.
FINISH THE RIDE looked like a major Hollywood event with camera crews and reporters from 14 TV stations, radio stations and print media. They all helped to spread the word that people were demanding safe streets on which to live, work and play.
The ride was undoubtedly a huge success but the best part was the result: The hit-and-run rate in Los Angeles, which is arguably the highest in the country, has dropped 9% since the beginning of 2014!
THE MOVEMENT CONTINUES
Damian and the dedicated Finish The Ride team are pressing forward with a multifaceted attack on a problem that continues to take the lives of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists on an almost daily basis. FTR is not only working with LACBC but multiple other like-minded non-profits. Their strategy includes:
JOIN THE RIDE
Finish The Ride is an effective, dynamic campaign. It is a movement that has already started to reshape Los Angeles and is being heard around the world. You are invited to join the ride and help change conditions, not only in Los Angeles but across the United States!