July 8 marked the start of the 11th annual Cops Cycling for Survivors bicycle ride across Indiana. A departure ceremony was held at 8:30 a.m. at the Law Enforcement/Firefighter Memorial, adjacent to the State Capitol in downtown Indianapolis.
This year there are 51 cyclists participating in the ride. They departed shortly after the keynote comments of Spencer Moore, survivor of Officer David S. Moore of the Indianapolis Metro Police Department, who died Jan. 26, 2011. They headed east toward Greenfield on the first leg of journey that will last 13 days and cover nearly 1,000 miles.
Cops Cycling for Survivors Foundation Inc. is made up of active and retired police officers, law enforcement survivors, law enforcement family members and friends of law enforcement riding their bicycles around the perimeter of Indiana to raise money and awareness about the sacrifices made by Hoosier law enforcement families.
Funds raised from this event are used to aid surviving family members and co-workers of officers killed in the line of duty. Previously raised funds have been directly donated to the Indiana Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), National COPS, Illinois COPS, The Unity Tour and Project Blue Light.
This year the cyclists are recognizing the sacrifices made by Lake County Corrections Officer Britney Meux and Indiana Department of Correction Officer Timothy Betts. Meux was killed instantly when struck while on a training run around the perimeter of the Lake County Jail. Three co-workers were also injured in the hit-and-run crash. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran had served with the Lake County Sheriff's Department for three years. She is survived by her daughter, mother, father and four sisters.
Betts suffered a heart attack while escorting an unruly prisoner to the segregation unit at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. He had served with the Indiana Department of Correction for 15 years. He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.
The ride is scheduled to conclude on the afternoon of Saturday, July 20, at Crown Hill Cemetery, Heroes of Public Safety Section, Indianapolis, where the riders will reunite with their families and other law enforcement survivors. There will be a short closing ceremony beginning at 2:30 p.m. To see the route the cyclists will follow, persons may visit the Web site www.copscycling4survivors.org/route.html.
The Cops Cycling for Survivors Foundation was granted 501(c) 3 status as a not-for-profit in late 2011, and the inaugural 13-day tour took place in July 2012. However, the spirit of this ride began many years before. In 2001 a group of police officers decided to support survivors by riding their bicycles from Indianapolis to Washington, D.C., to honor officers who had been killed in the line of duty and to support their survivors.
Two people who were integral to the success of Cops Cycling were Lt. Gary Dudley of the Indiana State Police and retired Chief Gary Martin of the Lake County Police Department. Dudley took the organizational and emotional lead and kept the wheels rolling after the first two years riding to Washington. Wanting to do more to support survivors on a local level, Martin brought the ride home to Indiana.
On Aug. 22, 2006, Dudley and Martin were both killed during the ride when a large box truck struck the rear of the support truck, pushing it into the cyclists. Several others who were cycling the day of the crash are determined to keep their memories and motivation alive. Those memories and motivation have developed into what the ride is today. To date, the cycling event has raised over $300,000 for Indiana Concerns of Police Survivors.