PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — This year, 185 police officers have died in the nation in the line of duty.
It’s the goal of Cops Cycling for Survivors to honor their memories while making sure their families are cared for.
For the last 19 years, cyclists have ridden 1,000 over 13 days across Indiana. This year, the event was cut down to one day on a single track because of the virus.
Indiana State Police Maj. Anthony Casto rode 91.1 miles around a track.
It took “about 5 hours and 17 minutes peddling.”
But as he rode, the names of hundreds of Indiana officer who have fallen through the years were read aloud for eight hours in remembrance.
“There’s so many names,” Casto said. “Even as I was riding around, you hear the speakers and it’s like, you know, there are people that I knew from different agencies and it just brings back memories.”
“Everybody goes on with their lives,” said Kevin Getz, a Cops Cycling for Survivors board member. “All too often, the survivors are kind of thought about during the one year anniversary, the five year, the ten year. Well, we want to remember our survivors and our affected agencies on any given Tuesday in the middle of may.”
Casto’s 91.1 miles wasn’t random. That mileage matches up with state trooper Peter “Bo” Stephan’s assigned ID number. He died last year and left behind his wife and young daughter.
“I believe she’s 5 months old, I want to say now,” Casto said. “Again, this is something she’ll never know her father but through efforts like this, the organization of cops cycling they’ll be able to support her and she’ll know her father’s spirit.”
So after 91.1 miles of reflection, Casto walks away from the track with heavy legs and a heavy heart.
“Do a lot of praying,” Casto said. “I prayed for the families of the survivors, pray for this country, that there be healing and that we treat each other with kindness. What this country needs to take the next step to grow and be better than we were yesterday.”
But he also walks away knowing he’s keeping Trooper Stephan’s memory alive and showing that his family is cared for.
“Remember our survivors,” Getz said. “Especially in the local communities when you know them. Say ‘hey, how are you doing?’ you’re never forgotten. That’s the biggest thing. The biggest takeaway is making sure that they’re never forgotten and that their officer who made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us is never forgotten.
The donations for this event help fallen officers’ loved ones get aid and are given to scholarships, funds and camps started in officers’ memories. Donations can be made on the organization’s website.