Remembering a motorcyclist who truly enjoyed life brings motorcycle safety to light

You never realize how much you appreciate someone in your life until they are taken away in an instant. On April 28, my softball coach, who I only knew for a very short period of time, died at the Northwest Nitro Nationals Pro Hill Climb event 30 miles east of Yakima. Shane Donaca was on a test run with his Banshee motorcycle when he hit a depression and was thrown over the handlebars. At only 44, it is unbelievable how many lives he has impacted and how many people will remember his legacy due to his love for life and others.

Passing just before the nationally recognized Motorcycle Safety Awareness month, Shane’s death is the ideal instance to remind riders about the importance of motorcycle safety. As summer approaches, more motorcyclists will be on the road. Car crash victims have a 20 percent chance of injury or death in a car accident; motorcyclists have an 80 percent chance of injury or death. Motorcyclists should to take proper safety precautions, such as wearing a helmet, whether they are on the main roads or participating in an amateur event like Shane was.

Even if proper safety is being followed, accidents can still turn deadly. On the other hand, if motorcyclists don’t choose to take the proper precautions, thinking of how their fate will affect their family and others who care about them should be a strong reminder to change their mindset.

Prior to the memorial service for Shane, current and past members of my softball team, Oregon City Magic, handed out red wrist bands. The wrist bands read “Go hard or go home” and “Team Donaca.” Wearing this wrist band every day since the memorial reminds me that he will always be in the hearts of the my teammates, my assistant coaches, his family and friends, and me. I may have only been coached by him for the fall season and through the winter months for practice, but every improvement he made to my game truly paid off.

This is the type of man that deserves to be remembered: one that dedicated his life to helping others and had fun doing it. There was never a practice where I wasn’t laughing at something he said or did. This is what helped make my transition to this new tournament team smoother. It started the day I tried out for Magic in August of last year. Shane was the first one who welcomed when I arrived at the Clackamas Community College softball field. I remember being extremely nervous about joining a new team. When he enthusiastically greeted me and started asking about my prior softball experience as I was writing it on the form, it truly made me feel welcome.

I am so glad that I was able to have the opportunity to become a part of that team. The Magic coaches have made me see the game of softball in a different way and have changed me and my game for the better.

The number of people at Shane’s service was remarkable— how many people cared about him and how many lives he impacted in his unexpected short time here. Although Shane was participating in an event in which the riders dart up steep hills, not riding on the main highways with other cars, it still shows how powerful motorcycles are even if the motorcyclist is wearing all the protective gear and a sturdy helmet.

Therefore, in order to protect the lives of motorcyclists on the road, more protective gear should be worn in addition to a solid helmet. Motorcyclists need to be aware of everything and everyone around them. No one is ever guaranteed tomorrow because in one instant, your life can be taken away forever. The lives of your family and friends are forever changed as well. That’s why when riding a motorcycle, proper safety precautions need to be taken. Shane’s death is a concrete reminder that this tragedy can happen to anyone. Go hard or go home, but always be safe while doing it.