Every year since 2020, hundreds of community members gather together at the McClellan Trails and ride in the name of Sloan Harmon, a talented young mountain biker whose life was tragically cut short in 2019. To commemorate Sloan's spirit, his parents established a 501(c)(3) organization called the Soaring with Sloan Foundation and initiated a scholarship that honors his passion of mountain biking. Beginning as a small memorial ride, Shred for Sloan has transformed into a powerful annual gathering, raising money for the scholarship through t-shirt sales and donations.
LEFT: Sloan Harmon;
RIGHT: Shred for Sloan bikers gather at the trail marker named in his memory at the McClellan Trails
Chase Garrard, who coordinates the Shred for Sloan memorial ride, said, "I think it's a healing event after such an absolute tragedy, especially for the community." He emphasized that the gathering not only pays tribute to Sloan through mountain biking, but also allows his parents to witness the positive influence their son continues to have on countless lives in the community.
Central to the Shred for Sloan event is the scholarship program that provides opportunities for high school senior bikers to pursue their dreams. Any active high school senior mountain biker can apply for the scholarship, and are required to submit a compelling essay, expressing how mountain biking has transformed their lives, along with a comprehensive resume showcasing their achievements. The winners are then awarded the scholarship at the concluding ceremony of the ACA State Championship.
Each year has witnessed a surge in participation and funds raised for the Shred for Sloan Scholarship, allowing them to expand the scholarship from just one recipient to both a male and female recipient. In 2023, the event amassed over $8,000 for the foundation, a true testament to the enduring support from the biking community to keep Sloan's legacy alive.
Shred for Sloan scholarship recipients Emma Obermaier (L) and KB Benkwith (R) are recognized at the ACA State Championship
One of the scholarship recipients, Emma Obermaier from the Donaho School, will use the scholarship to continue her biking journey at Montevallo this fall: "I am so thankful for the people with the Shred for Sloan foundation for opening such a great opportunity for young athletes, like me, to help me set my best foot forward as I step into my future with this sport."
The second scholarship recipient, KB Benkwith from the Donaho School, shares a sentimental connection to the scholarship: "Sloan was a very close friend of mine, so I was beyond grateful to receive the scholarship in his name. The McClellan trails are also super special to me as it was one of my first ever mountain bike race wins...I’m very hopeful to come back and help at the [ACA] events now that I’ve graduated. I enjoy nothing more than to be in that environment."
Shred For Sloan stands as a testament to the resilience of a community united by a shared love for cycling and a commitment to honoring a remarkable young life. With each passing year, the Shred For Sloan scholarship brings hope and opportunity to deserving young athletes, ensuring Sloan's legacy lives on through their journeys on two wheels.
To learn more about this cause, visit the Shred for Sloan Facebook page.