Annual motorcycle ride keeps alum’s memory alive
(Photo: Brent Bowen, head of the Department of Aviation Technology, talks with Penny Stroup at Russel’s Ride’s final destination, Hunter’s Pub. Bowen participated in the motorcycle ride that honors Stroup’s son.)
Forty-five family and friends drove from Bristol, Ind., to West Lafayette August 13 to remember Russel Stroup and support a Purdue College of Technology scholarship in his name. The fifth annual Russel’s Ride raised more than $3,000 for the Russel Stroup Memorial Scholarship.
Stroup graduated from Purdue in 2005 with a professional flight degree. Two years later, he died when the crop-dusting plane he was flying crashed. His friends organized the first ride in September 2007.
The ride features motorcycles, which was Stroup’s second favorite mode of transportation. Several participants make the 130-mile trip in cars and trucks as well, including Stroup’s parents, Penny and Martin, who drive his pick-up.
“It’s really heartwarming to see everybody who comes and rides to support this,” Penny Stroup said. “Marty and I are just awestruck by the support and by the kids year after year. They just continue to surprise us.”
The ride to Lafayette ends on the south side at Hunter’s Pub, Russel’s favorite place to eat.
“Russel’s Ride is fun,” said his sister, Jessica Bender, who helps organize T-shirt sales and an auction for the event. “The day includes a lot of friends. It is sad at the end of the day, but it’s pretty cool to have that time remembering him.”
With an endowed scholarship in his name, others will continue to remember Russel for years to come. His parents set up the scholarship as a way to help students like him.
“When he was applying for scholarships, he found it really frustrating. We made it for students who are juniors or seniors. At that point, they are really committed to college, and that’s about the time that the money runs out,” Penny said. “We also said it should be for a “B” student. Russel was very committed, but he wasn’t an ‘all-As’ student. We established it for the type of student Russel was.”
The Stroups were able to meet the one of the scholarship recipients, Alexandria Finger, at a reception in 2010.
“What a wonderful young woman,” Penny said. “She’ll do well. She has the heart and the drive that Russel had.”
Seeing Russel’s memory live on and enjoying the support of family friends has helped the Stroup family through the loss of their son. Their faith and church family have also been very important.
“Knowing God gives you such a peace. We have such a peace about this tragedy. He works in mysterious and wonderful ways,” she said.
Read more on the Russel’s Ride blog.
Support the Russel A.Stroup Memorial Scholarship. (Select “College of Technology”, then “College of Technology Scholarships”, and note Russel Stroup Scholarship in the “Other Instructions” box)