PHOTOS: Bradley McPherson still makes his mark, eight years later

Memorial car show spins its tires for murdered man in support of local scholarship

An annual memorial for murder victim Bradley McPherson – in the form of a revved up car show – returned on Saturday for the seventh year at its new location, the Twilight Drive-In.

Sue Simning, mother of McPherson, along with one of her closest friends Kim Loof, organized the show ’n’ shine – which incorporated family activities, a silent auction, and live music to fundraise for a scholarship given to a high school student who struggles with attention-deficit disorder, like McPherson did.

This year the car show raised $11,369 for the cause.

“We do this so we can keep the memory of Bradley alive, and his (truck) Emma,” Simning said, tearful over the microphone.

Emma, a black 1980 GMC Short Box that belonged to McPherson, was parked front and centre at the event.

The mother revved the truck, whirling dust and debris as the tires spun. A procession of others followed in suit in honour of McPherson – in their hotrods, muscle cars, customs, vintage classics, and motorcycles.

Many in attendance were brought to tears by the roaring tribute.

Some sported limited edition shirts, detailing the name of the Burnouts In The Sky event on the front, and the words “Like rubber to asphalt, you left your mark” on the back.

McPherson was murdered on Christmas Eve in 2011, at age 28, after standing up for a woman being harassed by a male guest at a house party in Newton.

He left behind his mother and two sisters – Mariah and Jenny. It took six years for the family to see his killer, Russell Bidesi, behind bars.

His now 23-year-old sister Mariah, who was 15 at the time of McPherson’s murder, wished that her brother – who “wore his heart on his sleeve” – could have been there for her wedding this year.

“But all of his friends were there” and rallied around her on the big day.

The McPherson-Simning family was surprised when half-way through the event a man from Cloverdale, named Rick Spigulis, handed the deed of McPherson’s long-lost Camaro back to the family.

“Twenty-six years ago Brad McPherson bought his first car. It was a 1978 Camaro that he never did anything with. Always had the plans to restore it,” Simning explained.

After selling it years ago, “this man right here has that car and he’s donating it back to the family today,” Siminig said, interrupted by cheering that was followed by tears and embraces.

The mother walked hand-in-hand with Spigulis to introduce the Good Samaritan and tell his good news to other family members in the drive-in lot.

McPherson’s uncle, Ren Lafleur, knew Bradley since he was a newborn.

“If you knew him, you couldn’t help but love him,” Lafleur said.

Nine of McPherson’s buddies came from all around the Lower Mainland to the seventh memorial car show, one admitting he “wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Jason Binder, one of McPherson’s close friends roared into the show on a motorcycle.

“His laugh was infectious,” Binder described.

“When we were kids it was him doing up his BMX, polishing the chrome. It started from that,” and led to restoring cool vehicles like Emma.

Another friend who came out said McPherson was the life of the party.

“Even if he didn’t know you he’d come up and introduce himself,” he said, noting that McPherson was known to help anyone – friend or stranger.

Twenty-four-year-old Calvin Bowie, a cousin of McPherson, tagged his uncle’s name as part of a live art installation he completes every year on four pieces of 4×8 plywood.

It took the young artist a little more than three hours to complete the work, which once finished spelled out “Brad.”

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McPherson’s cousin Calvin Bowie, tagged a live art installation in the back corner of the lot on four pieces of 4x8 plywood. (Kim Loof photo)

McPherson’s cousin Calvin Bowie, tagged a live art installation in the back corner of the lot on four pieces of 4x8 plywood. (Kim Loof photo)

When Bradley was young he revamped up his BMX, polishing the chrome. It started from that, and led to restoring cool vehicles like Emma. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

His now 23-year-old sister Maria (left), who was 15 at the time of McPherson’s murder, wished that her brother could have been there for her wedding this year. (Kim Loof photo)

McPherson’s buddies came from across the Lower Mainland to the memorial car show, and hung out near his 1980 GMC Short Box named Emma. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

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