Sandie Martins-Toner will never get over the death of her son, Matthew, who was attacked and killed in the summer of 2005 at the Surrey Central SkyTrain bus loop.
But campaigning against bullying has helped her, she told the Langley Advance Times, following a ride by Bikers Against Bullying in Langley on Saturday, Aug. 22.
“It has healed me,” Martins-Toner told The Langley Advance Times.
“There is light at the end of that very dark time.”
Her son Matthew, 16, was walking by a late-night Whalley house party on July 2, 2005 when there was a confrontation involving a woman and her boyfriend.
At trial, the Crown said it started as an attempted robbery, but when Matthew fought back and refused to hand over a gold chain he was wearing, the woman urged the boyfriend to attack.
One witness testified that the woman said “if you love me, you’ll kill him.”
Both were found guilty of second-degree murder by a B.C. Supreme Court jury in April 2007, but the woman’s conviction was overturned on appeal.
Martins-Toner, a long-time rider, sold her motorcycle and all of her gear to help pay for Matthew’s funeral.
She didn’t take it up again until about four years ago, and convinced her husband David Toner, who had never ridden before, to get his motorcycle licence.
On Saturday, as members of Bikers Against Bullying, they were among 130 motorcyclists who left Sea 2 Sky Motorsports at 22454 48th Ave., at 11:30 a.m. and rode through the Township, out to Sumas Mountain, around Abbotsford, then returned to the starting point.
“It’s the most [attendance] we’ve ever experienced,” Martin-Toner related.
“COVID last year put a little damper on the event.”
In 2020, close to 100 riders took part in the Lower Mainland ride.
Martins-Toner said this year, there were also 200 to 250 “walk-throughs” at the gathering point.
“We’re really starting to get traction, in the sense of people knowing we exist,” Martins-Toner commented.
Sandie and David thanked the volunteers and people who shared the road in Langley during the ride.
“We appreciate the patience of drivers,” David said.
Having bikers stand up against bullying began just over a decade ago when riders began escorting bullied children into their schools to show that adults had their backs.
It has a website, stopbully.com that has more than 12,000 members. It’s stated goal is to “spread awareness to children, schools and communities to end the spirit of bullying while empowering youth.”
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