A group of motorcyclists called Ride With the 40 is riding across the country to raise money and awareness for the Families of Flight 93. The group's goal is to raise $1 million to help FOF93 and the National Parks Foundation build a nationally recognized memorial at the flight's Sept. 11 crash site in Shanksville, Pa., in honor of the 40 Americans who died there.
To help the group raise money and awareness, four volunteers from McCann NY—Christine Cattano, Catherine Patterson, Stuart Shapiro and Chandler Simms—created the group's social media platform and are riding with RW40 on the entire trip. New York design firm Last Exit created the website.
"Americans have donated money to causes using digital media – texting funds to Haiti and Katrina victims, being the two most obvious examples," RW40's Joe Bargmann said in a statement. "We have created an interactive website for Americans to follow the trip, to get involved, to have a dialogue, to make donations, and to come out and meet the riders. We are using Twitter and Facebook and Foursquare. We are connecting digitally with motorcycle clubs, municipalities, local media, community groups."
According to McCann, agency producer Patterson came up with the idea to help raise awareness for this year's ride, the second annual trip. The agency wanted to harness the energy that everyone involved in the ride brings to the adventure, using digital media to bring people together. Planners hope that this year's ride will serve as the basis for an even larger event next year, the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, that will include comedy, literature, music and fashion fundraisers for the FOF93 charity.
The crash site in a Pennsylvania field has been visited by more than 1 million people, making it the 19th most-visited memorial in the country even though nothing is built there, according to the National Parks Service, which acquired the land in 2009. The site attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year, making it one of Pennsylvania's biggest attractions.
The trip, which is being made in segments, marks the aircraft's intended flight route from the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to the San Francisco International Airport, where it will end with a memorial ceremony on Sept. 11.
Response to RW40's effort so far has been overwhelming, McCann says. The trip started yesterday morning with a kick-off ceremony by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and stopped at the improvised memorial site in Shanksville in the afternoon. The agency's Cattano and Shapiro will be posting updates online along the way, and Accuweather.com meteorologist Henry Margusity, who was assigned to the ride, will post dedicated weather updates for the group and its followers on his website.
In addition, several local government leaders have planned celebrations, and businesses have donated goods and services. At each stop, the RW40 team will ask community to sign the flag they're relaying across the country, and to make donations to the memorial fund drive. "We are very honored to be working with the Families of Flight 93 to help them create a social media platform and support this great cause," Patterson said in a statement. "This campaign is about getting up and taking decisive action towards achieving a worthy goal—something that everyone can do and that the 40 on the flight did. It's not every day we get to work collaboratively on such a great platform for such an inspired initiative and with such a great crew."