Thirty first responders embarked on an epic feat last week. The challenge was to ride 600 miles on their bicycles in 6 days. What made this extraordinary was that a number of them did not train at all for the ride. They wanted the experience to be sacrificial and to push them to their limits. They surmised that the pain and turmoil throughout the week paled in comparison to the ultimate sacrifice that their fallen first responders had shown. Not only did they pedal long miles on their bicycles, but you also had to factor in the heat. There were days that the heat index was well over 100 degrees. They stopped along the route as they rode through North and South Carolina to spend time with the family members of the fallen and offer encouragement and support. The ride was also a fundraiser to help provide assistance for the family members.
I spent time with the group before they left and was also there as part of the welcoming committee as they arrived with a full escort of emergency service vehicles at the conclusion of the trek. The team was fatigued emotionally, mentally and physically, but yet you could sense the camaraderie and pride amongst the members. We all circled up while Michael Sheltra started to speak. Michael is the father of a fallen firefighter. His 20 year old son Richard died while battling a 3 alarm fire. Michael spoke about the legacy of his son’s life and then expressed his thanks for everyone’s love and support. Following his words, Michael led us in prayer. I later thanked him for sharing and praying with the group.
I walked away from this experience humbled that I have the privilege to invest in the lives of our first responders. They are a courageous group of people that are resilient and compassionate. I love my new calling in life, and I could not do it without the support that each of you provides. Thanks for praying and caring for me and my family as we continue to provide emotional and spiritual support for our first responders.