Charity Bike Ride for Fallen Police Officers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Team Texas is preparing to embark on three-day bike ride to raise money for the families of fallen officers. (Published Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013)

    Last year, 165 police officers were killed in the line of duty, including 11 in Texas.

    Team Texas, a nonprofit organization of North Texas police officers and family members who help the families of fallen officers, is holding a charity bike ride in May.

    "It's a really good group of people who come together to honor officers who died in the line of duty and who died doing what they love," Joann Jackson said.

    Road to Hope participants each ride for a fallen police officer in a physically demanding and emotionally draining journey from Chesapeake, Va., to Washington, D.C.

    "We wear these bracelets that have the officers' names that we're riding for, and that's all the motivation we need," said Ryan Chandler a Farmers Branch officer. "You just look down at that -- that's why we're doing it. You can suffer a little bit of pain for that."

    Much of the money raised goes to a camp for the families of fallen officers. They get the counseling they need and the fun they deserve.

    Karen Freeto, who lost her husband and now works with several charities raising money for families in need, said the camp helped her child.

    "It's awesome. My oldest daughter shut down completely. She was nine when it happened, she was 11 when she went to camp, and she was a different kid when she came home," she said. "She smiled again. She smiled while she was there, and she begs to go back every year."

    Joann Jackson said her husband's partner, Ryan Duffy, who had also been a groomsman in their wedding, rode for him.

    "Just the honor that someone would ride, in memory of him and wear a bracelet with his name and make that ride to honor him -- that's a big deal," she said.

    Officer Steve Ruthorford, who is training for his first ride, said he knows he's in for a rough one.

    "It is a tough ride," he said. "We're riding about 240 miles over the course of three days. That's a good distance to do."

    Many North Texas officers go back for the ride year after year. Once they get to the finish line, there's no question it was worth it, they say.

    "The arrival ceremony is one of the more emotional ones, because you get to see the families that you're riding for," Chandler said. "We actually get to present them with the bracelet and the flag that we carry on the back of our bike."

    The ride takes place in May during National Police Week in Washington, D.C. The night after the race, more than 10,000 police officers, friends and family from all over the world take part in a candlelight vigil to remember all the officers lost in the last year.

    "They shoot a thin blue line across the sky," Chandler said. "It's quite a sight to see all those candles out there together, everybody standing side by side, and then they read every name of the officers that was killed and will be added to the wall that year."

    The Road to Hope ride begins May 10 and ends May 12. There are a number of fundraising events between now and then. For more information on Team Texas, click here.