In a season when boat outings and long days enjoying the lake are common, it’s difficult to imagine a day on the water taking a tragic turn for the worse.
That’s exactly what happened for the Prince family on June 18 when two of their sons — Jake, 9, and Griffin, 13 — were killed in a boating accident on Lake Lanier.
After the community was stunned by the young boys’ deaths, Dawson County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Doug Boyle felt compelled to do something to help support the Prince family any way he could. Saturday’s Griffin and Jake Prince Memorial Ride was the result.
“This event is about our communities coming together and reaching out to this family in their time of sorrow and sadness, and what better way to do it,” Boyle said.
Sheriff’s offices from Hall, Lumpkin, Forsyth and Dawson counties all were involved in sponsoring the event.
Saturday’s 70-mile ride not only included a police-escorted motorcycle trip around Lake Lanier through four counties, but also a performance by The Brian Jarrett Band, food from a Dawsonville restaurant and a classic car show.
All proceeds from the motorcycle ride and car show went directly to the boys’ memorial fund, while portions of food and vendor proceeds did as well.
Family members Mike, Tara and Ryan Prince were also present at the start and end points of the ride and showed tremendous gratitude and thankfulness for the community support through a genuine display of emotion.
Those who chose to take part in the event were no less moved.
“I’ve spent many a summer out on Lanier ever since I was a kid,” said Brady Wise, a Forsyth County resident and boat and motorcycle lover. “And now, I take my kids out on the lake. To think about something so tragic happening doing something you love is unbearable. I just wanted to come out to let the Prince family know they are not at all alone in this.”
Such were the sentiments of many taking part. The Caldwell family from Dawson County added to the number of supporters.
“Both of our kids, Lydia and Dan, ride bikes with my wife and me time to time, so this was a great chance to let them ride with us and add to the number of people from the community out to rally behind the Princes,” Grant Caldwell said at the end of the ride in Dawsonville.
Daughter Lydia, 14, shared these feelings.
“I know it would be so bad if something happened to me or my family on a boat, and I hope Griffin and Jake’s family is doing OK right now and having fun here,” she said.
Everyone involved in the day’s events was happy to know funds raised would be going to directly help offset the costs of the funerals.
“We are expected to bury our parents, not our kids, and I cannot imagine the pain that is in their hearts,” Boyle said. “But I can let them know that we, as a community, care and we are here for them.”