For five years, Marie Nobles has played a large part in organizing the Rex Gill Memorial event, a charity motorcycle ride in Penticton that honours the legacy of her late son.
It returned on Saturday morning, Sept. 23, and included moments like this that remind her why she continues to do it:
Nobles watched as more than a dozen riders pulled into the Tim Horton’s parking lot on Westminster Avenue, with a rider named Shayne among those to make a surprise appearance. He’s someone who Nobles hadn’t seen for years, but also one of Gill’s best friends growing up.
“We’re here for Rex,” said an emotional Nobles, looking upon all the people waiting to start the journey down Highway 97 to Osoyoos, in honour of the Penticton man who was murdered outside a Kamloops motel in January 2019. He was 41.
“I’m just really grateful for everyone coming…it may not be the nicest day out, but everyone is going to ride anyway because Rex would. He would ride in ice and snow and he wouldn’t care, as long as he was on his bike, he was happy.”
Gill was known as a caring, charitable man, with many friends across B.C.
Not long before his death, Gill would organize charity rides himself across the Okanagan. He wanted to raise money for the homeless, with the Kelowna Gospel Mission among his causes of choice.
That same charity, along with the Penticton Alliance Church food bank, will be on the receiving end of funds yet again thanks to Saturday’s ride in the South Okanagan.
More than 12 riders started the journey just after 10 a.m. The group planned on heading toward Anarchist Mountain before stopping at the Okanagan Falls Hotel for lunch on their way back from Osoyoos when returning home.
Saturday’s event also honours the legacy of Mike Courtenay, another one of Gill’s good friends and someone who helped him with the first few charity rides across the region.
Courtenay died in 2020.
“Some are here for Rex, and some are here for Mike,” Nobles said. “If you’re like me, you’re here for both.”
The riders’ starting point of the Penticton Tim Horton’s wasn’t selected without good reason.
Nobles says she still remembers her son riding into the restaurant’s parking lot, waiting for his mom to meet him.
“(The owner) still remembers Rex, and she told us we could start the ride here,” Nobles recalled.
“(Rex) touched a lot of people’s lives,” Nobles said. “He was a big loss.”
The murder of Gill remains unsolved and police believe it was a case of mistaken identity.
“We’re still grieving because she has been no closure,” Nobles said.
In past years, the charity event has raised around $2,500 for local causes.
A pair of 50/50 draws headline fundraising events this year, with donations set to be collected at the Okanagan Falls Hotel and tallied through the weekend.