"They Ride for Those Who Died"
Sheriff's Deputies Participate in the Unity Tour
265 Mile Bike Ride Raises Awareness of Officers Who Died in the Line of Duty
[August 28, 2013, Harford County, MD]: Six deputies from the Harford County Sheriff's Office combined with over 100 additional cyclists, and 30 support staff from Maryland and Delaware, along with Motor Officers from several participating agencies, recently rode 265 miles as part of the Unity Tour to raise awareness for officers who have died in the line of duty. The ride, which took place during Fallen Officer's week in May, travelled from Philadelphia through Delaware and Maryland over 4 days ending with their arrival in Washington DC. Along the way deputies raised over $14,000.
DFC Matt Schueler, one of the coordinators for the ride, said the ride was an amazing experience. "I was so glad that I was able to be a part of it", Schueler said. "Not only was it a personal achievement to complete all 265 miles, but to ride in memory of a fallen officer is the real incentive", he said. Schueler explained helping to keep the memory of fallen peace officer alive is personally very rewarding. This year, he noted, that he not only rode in memory of five Harford County Sheriff's deputies who have died in the line of duty, but also for his great-great grandfather Thomas J. Barlow, a Baltimore City Police Officer who died in the line of duty in 1937. "It is such an honor to ride carrying their names and supporting their families" Schueler said.
Cpl. Eric Gonzalez, who was also part of the ride, described the event as a truly unique experience. "It is unlike any other ride," Gonzalez, said. "You are representing your fallen peers and you feel a sense of determination to keep riding when it gets tough. It gives me an overwhelming sense of pride to know we are riding for a great cause and to know the families appreciate what we have done to represent their loved one" he said. At the end of the ride, Gonzalez said, the riders give a bracelet to the family in honor of the officer for whom they rode. "The feeling of handing over the Unity Tour bracelet to the family in the end", Gonzalez said, "is an emotional experience that I just cannot put into words".
Both deputies explained that approximately 1600 riders from across the nation participated in the ride. As they approached Washington excitement grew as the streets were lined with family and friends cheering the riders as they approached the finish line. Both deputies said the feeling was quite overwhelming. They also noted that after the ride the cyclists stayed in Washington for the next day and participated in the ceremonies to honor all fallen officers. DFC Schueler remarked that the Harford County deputies raised over $14,000 which goes towards the Law Enforcement Memorial and future museum. Nationwide the riders raised $1.72 million. "The Unity tour is scheduled again for May 2014 and already 110 riders from the Maryland/Delaware area have signed up," Schueler said.
Sheriff L. Jesse Bane commented that what these deputies have done is simply amazing. "I am certainly in awe of the miles they rode but moreover am so proud of them for taking on this challenge. And further knowing that what they did is done so that others will never forget the sacrifice those who have died have made," the Sheriff said. "We cannot bring back the deputies who have lost their lives but their memories live on through events such as the Unity Tour," Bane said, adding, "It's those memories that sustain us as we continue to serve and protect our communities".
For more information go to http://www.policeunitytour.com.