SIA Ride for Education 'serves as unselfish support for ... first line of defense'

Thursday, March 4, 2010

LAS VEGAS—The Security Industry Association is asking attendees of ISC West, held here, to stick around for an extra day after the show, fire up the hog and help out a worthy cause. The 7th annual Ride for Education, which supports SIA’s First Responders Educational Scholarship that awards funds to volunteer or publicly paid first responders who are taking security and life safety-related courses, will take place on Saturday, March 27, following the show’s wrap.

Mark Visbal, SIA director of research and technology, was on the inaugural ride back when the event was simply a way for show attendees to blow off steam. “I have been with SIA now 11 years. My first ISC West was spring of 2001,” Visbal said. “I met a couple of bartenders that rode. I ride and they offered to show me, my brother, my cousin and a couple of SIA staffers around when ISC rolled around the next year. The ride then unofficially started in 2002.”

G4S monitoring and data center vice president of operations Jerry Cordasco was also on hand for the first ride in 2001. Cordasco said the ride grew naturally from a fun outing to a great way to support first responders. “You gotta stay an extra day, but it’s worth it. It started probably eight years ago and it was not a formal ride. It was just an impromptu thing that happened between myself, Mark Visbal from SIA and a couple other guys and we decided on our own to stay an extra day and ride and we rented Harleys and we had a blast,” Cordasco said. “The next year a few more people found out about it and they went on the ride. By the third year it had gotten so big GE started sponsoring it, and whole bunch of other companies started sponsoring it and it turned into a whole organized ride and that’s what it’s been ever since.”

Visbal agreed it was important to help after the events of September 11, 2001: “In 2004, Tom Minerich from GE suggested a ‘Ride for Education’ with sponsors and the creation of a fund that would allow the first responder community the ability to apply for scholarship monies to advance their professional skills as they relate to their jobs,” Visbal said. “This was a direct result of wanting to support and relieve the strain put on the first responder community nationwide in the post-9/11 environment. Since we were already doing an unofficial ride, it was a no-brainer.”

The ride runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and takes riders through the Valley of Fire and other scenic stops including a visit to the Hoover Dam. A barbeque lunch is provided. Registration costs $45 per rider ($35 per passenger if you elect to participate in a convertible car rather than a motorcycle). Participants can bring their own ride or rent one at a discounted rate of $125 from Las Vegas Harley Davidson (877-571-7174). More information on the ride and on sign up procedures is available by contacting SIA communications manager Ron Hawkins at 703-647-8485 or

Visbal said the ride was a good way to honor those who put their lives on the line. “The combination of the camaraderie, the natural beauty of the Valley of Fire, the stress relief and the knowledge that the Ride for Education serves as unselfish support for a group of people that are our first line of defense nationwide has made the Ride for Education a perfect ending to the ISC West show for the participants,” Visbal said.