|Riders gather at RFK stadium prior to riding into the Capitol.|
A candlelight vigil and ceremonial reading of deceased officers names in wrapped up the Police Unity tour Sunday night. The seven riders from Monroe County attended in dress uniform and escorted the children and families of fallen officers into the ceremony to special seating set aside for them.
|Riding from the statium to the Memorial.|
The Unity Tour raises money and awareness for the National Police Memorial and for the families of officers killed in the line of duty. Different Unity Tour chapters from all over the United States ride between 250 – 300 miles on bicycles, converging on the Washington D.C. They all gather at the end of the ride at RFK Stadium, then ride from there to the National Memorial in downtown D.C.
According to Sheriff’s Captain Penny Phelps, who participated in the ride, as they rode to the memorial, the streets were lined with people – including many groups of school children – cheering them on. After getting to the memorial, they split into two lines, riding through the area while family, friends and fellow law enforcement officers lined the memorial benches and stood in the middle of the monument.
|Sheriff's Captain Penny Phelps and KWPD Officer Diane|
Lipinski escort children of a fallen officer to the vigil.
“It was an experience that made very ache, pain and uphill struggle during the ride worth it,” said Captain Phelps.
Each rider rides in honor of a fallen officer. They wear a special bracelet which is then presented to the fallen officer’s family at the end of the ride. As first time riders, members of the Monroe County team had the honor of escorting survivors to a special candlelight vigil on Sunday night. In full dress uniform, they met buses filled with survivors as they arrived at the memorial. They then escorted them to survivors seating. During the solemn ceremony, there is a roll call of fallen officer’s names and the dates of their deaths.
|Candlelight vigil for fallen officers.|
There were a total of 180 riders in the chapter Monroe County rode with – Chapter VIII – which represents the southern states. The chapter raised $200,000.00 for the cause.