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Event raises $4,300 for playground equipment in tribute to sisters

Broken hearts beat a bit faster — and together — Saturday morning during a Cycle of Life event honoring Forest Grove sisters Abigail Robinson and Anna Dieter-Eckerdt.

The combination tribute and fundraiser was staged less than a block from the spot on Main Street where Abby, 11, and Anna, 6, were killed in a tragic accident Oct. 20 while playing in a pile of fall leaves.

More than 75 families and a number of single cyclists signed up to complete a four-mile bike route around town and donate money for additional playground equipment to be installed behind the Forest Grove School District administration office, where the girls often played.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Kris Williams of Pacific Universitys outdoor recreation program gives last-minute instructions to volunteers who stood at intersections around town during the four-mile Cycle of Life event.

“It warmed our hearts to see those in our community riding and playing right where we would with Abigail and Anna,” said Tom Robinson, Abigail’s father. “We want to send our love, hugs and thanks to all who supported the event.”

As they rode off under an archway of blue and purple balloons — the girls’ favorite colors — family members and friends of all ages provided a hurting community with a collective visual embrace.

About 150 members of the Portland Velo cycling club came out to show support for the family and donate to the cause. Decked out in their Lycra and Spandex uniforms, the helmeted cyclists arrived in waves, to a smattering of applause, like reinforcements from the east.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Maggie Pike of Maggies Buns in Forest Grove brought soup, cinnamon rolls and good humor to Saturdays tribute.

“We appreciate Forest Grove because we come through here all the time on weekend rides,” said Kevin Rhea, president of the group. “Our whole club was pretty touched by what happened. We wanted to be here.

“I have a little girl who’s 10. This [news of the girls’ deaths] just hurt my heart.”

Another group from the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club showed up later and joined the throng of riders.

Maggie Pike, owner of Maggie’s Buns, said Monday that about $4,300 had been collected.

“It was lovely,” said Pike, who estimated close to 400 people attended the event throughout the day. “I hope it helps in some way.”

Tom Robinson and Susan Dieter-Robinson, the girls’ parents, said they hoped Cycle of Life would become an annual Forest Grove event. “Huge showerings of gratitude [to] Maggie for creating, coordinating and planning this wonderful occasion — an amazing event that was perfect for our girls,” they said.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - A throng of bicycle riders, including Nicki Butler and her son Evan (foreground), as well as Sam Marshall and his daughter McKenzie (center background), take off from behind the Forest Grove School District office on the four-mile Cycle of Life route Saturday. About 400 people showed up to the event honoring sisters Abigail Robinson and Anna Dieter-Eckerdt.

While some rode the bike route, others hung back on the blacktop to talk, give and receive hugs, listen to guitar music and enjoy hot soup and homemade rolls.

Deanna and Brian Bloch and their children, Alexi, 14, and Trevor, 9, jumped on their bikes for the more physically active pursuit.

“We’ve really been affected by the tragedy,” said Brian, who added that his regular bike training route takes him right past the accident scene. “We wanted to show up to support the family.”

Likewise, said Kiley Booth of North Plains. Her daughter Madison, 6, a student at Harvey Clarke Elementary in Forest Grove, selected a unicorn design when she sat down to be decorated by face-painting artist Nicole Palazuelos.

“Susan and Tom are amazing,” said Booth, a special education instructional assistant for the Forest Grove School District, where Dieter-Robinson is employed. “And this community is amazing — there are really no words to describe it.”

Hillsboro resident John Haide, who works for REI in Tanasbourne, performed safety checks on bicycles all morning.

“I’m doing the ABCs of bike maintenance: air, brakes and chain,” said Haide, who found one brake cable that was “totally unusable” and sent that person home to grab a different set of wheels.

Kris Williams, who runs the outdoor recreation program at Pacific University, gave riders and volunteers last-minute instructions before they embarked on their journey under mostly clear skies at mid-morning.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Dilley Elementary teacher Candi Marshall (left) hugs Susan Dieter-Robinson after the bike ride. Their daughters Makenna and Anna were best friends.

“Ride safely, have fun and look out for each other!” he admonished.

Krista Zimmerman of Forest Grove was one of several people clutching a rubber boot into which folks stuffed money all morning long. “I’m here helping Maggie,” Zimmerman said simply. “I think it’s neat something lovely can be done.”

Members of Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, including Chief Michael Kinkade — whose kids rode the bike route — joined Police Chief Janie Schutz as the crowd swelled around 10:30 a.m.

Schutz, who moved to Forest Grove a year ago to take the chief’s position, said she was overwhelmed by how her adopted community has rallied in support of the family.

Standing under one of two massive tents set up earlier in the day by a host of volunteers (including the young sons of school district Superintendent Yvonne Curtis) was Forest Grove resident Stacy Schoen.

Her daughter, Rachael, had recently become friends with Abigail Robinson.

“They had a friendship that was just starting to blossom,” said Schoen, an instructional assistant at Dilley Elementary, where Anna was a student. “They weren’t in the same class, but they both went to Tom McCall.

“I’m just here volunteering my time. I wouldn’t miss this. It’s been really tough.”

During a lull in the activities — kids climbing on monkey bars, getting their faces painted, being fitted for bike helmets — some added details to a colorful mural created by Forest Grove resident Anya Doll-Schmitz that bore the words, “A family is a circle of people who love us.”

The three-panel mural, which will be coated with a weather-proof sealant, will be displayed indoors or outside. Possible locations include the local fire station or the school administration building.

Meanwhile, Cornelius guitarist and singer George Reiswig crooned some haunting lyrics about “mysteries dark and deep.”

His words expressed what others were undoubtedly pondering.

“This hasn’t been easy to process,” said Reiswig, who used to live in Forest Grove. “I want to sing things that will make people think and to remember not to take each other for granted.”

Local Weather



Forest Grove


Humidity: 92%

Wind: 0 mph

  • 30 Nov 2015

    Cloudy 36°F 30°F

  • 1 Dec 2015

    PM Rain 43°F 37°F