Monday, April 1, 2013

Law Enforcement Ambassador & Guardian Spotlight: Police Unity Tour Riders

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund enjoys the support of a special group of volunteers: Law Enforcement Ambassadors and Guardians. Law Enforcement Ambassadors are active and retired law enforcement officers from city, state, federal and military law enforcement agencies, while Law Enforcement Guardians are volunteers who support and honor law enforcement but are not sworn officers, allowing citizens, family members and corporate supporters to work closely with the Memorial Fund in achieving our goals.

Gary Jones, Sean Smoot, Shanda Berry, Joshua Bowman, and Stuart Levine are just a few individuals who not only help to support the Memorial Fund as Ambassadors and Guardians, but also as riders with the Police Unity Tour. Each volunteer rides not only to help raise awareness and funds for the Memorial, but often for a personal reason that is close to their hearts.

Participating in the Unity Tour brings the Memorial alive for riders, as well as the many people who witness them ride through their communities. Joshua Bowman said he rides because of the connections he has, being on the job every day and knowing the sacrifices of those who just were performing similar duties when their watch ended.  Rider Stuart Levine says he participates because after riding 300+ miles, the pain you endure is just a fraction of the pain that the families of the fallen officers feel on a daily basis.

It all started back in May of 1997 with Patrick P. Montuore of the Florham Park (NJ) Police Department. Officer Montuore (now Chief) wanted to honor officers who had died in the line of duty and draw attention to the sacrifices they made. The idea was to raise money by riding a bicycle from Florham Park, NJ to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. In that first year, 18 riders came together to raise $18,000 in just four days. Last year, more than 1600 riders participated from all over the country, donating over $1.65 million to the Memorial. Over the last 15 years, the Police Unity Tour has done much more than one could have ever imagined to honor the lives and sacrifices of fallen heroes and support the Memorial Fund.

The money raised and donated to the Memorial has supported a number of important projects. The Unity Tour raised $5 million for the National Law Enforcement Museum to sponsor its Hall of Remembrance, where all those who have died in the line of duty will be remembered. Also, the group funded a $1.1 million restoration project of the Memorial walls that included the re-engraving, coating and sealing of each name. All these accomplishments wouldn’t be possible without the individual support of many passionate volunteers.

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