Riding bicycles through the hot Texas heat in August might not be everybody’s idea of a good time.
But that’s exactly what volunteers from around the country are doing for eight days as they participate in the Texas Brotherhood Ride.
This year, 34 riders and 10 support volunteers travelled for 650 miles in eight days, from Hempstead to Austin.
Each cyclist is asked to raise at least $500 for the ride, and T-shirt sales and donations made along the route raise funds for families of police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel who have died in the line of duty. All of the riders are members of those fields, as well.
On Tuesday, Aug. 20, the riders stopped for a lunch break at the Kaufman Fire Department.
“We’re all one big family,” said Tim Dunn, the founder of the ride. Donations from the ride affirm how big that family really is.
Kevin Lanford, a firefighter from Orange Beach, Alabama, said this is his second year of riding with the support volunteers. They coordinate drinks, foods, luggage, rest stops, staying the night in churches or halls, as well as bicycle repairs.
Giving back to families who have had to pay such a high price provides him with a lift, he said.
“It refreshes my soul,” he said. “I want to be here for them, because I know they’ll be here for us.” The goal is to not have to ride, when there are no deaths among first responders, he added.
On Tuesday, sandwiches and fruit for the riders and crew were donated by Brookshires and Sloan’s Super Save in Scurry.
This is the first time a local agency has hosted the ride, although it did come through Canton last year, said Ronnie Davis of the Kaufman Fire Department.
While he was serving in the Dallas Police Department for 37 years, 41 officers were killed in the line of duty, said Dana Whitaker, who now is Kaufman’s chief of police.
“I’ve been to more funerals than I wanted to attend,” he said, adding that riding almost 100 miles a day in August is hot, but it’s a small price compared to the sacrifice those officers made.
After their lunch break, the cyclists headed to Dallas to culminate a 93-mile ride for the day.
This year’s ride honors the following officers who have died in Texas:
Loren Y. Vasquez -Waller County Sheriff Office
Raymond Bradley Jimmerson - Nacogdoches County Sheriff Office
M.V. Hudson - New London Volunteer Fire Department
Earl James “Jamie” Givens, III - Dallas Police Department
Rogelio Santander, Jr. - Dallas Police Department
Paul Ragsdale – U.S. Department of Justice
David Sherrard - Richardson Police Department
Garrett Hull - Fort Worth Police Department
Andy Loller - Weatherford Fire Department
Caleb Scott - North Richland Hills Fire Department
Damon Charles Allen - Texas Department of Public Safety
K9 Pastor - Waco Police Department
Charles Whites - Round Rock Police Department
Devon Coney - Austin Fire Department.
Donations to the ride can be made at www.texasbrotherhoodride.com, or checks can be sent to:
Texas Brotherhood Ride
Houston, TX 77021