Riders honor fallen police officers

July 20, 2008 8:57:41 PM PDT
Police officers from several Illinois communities have ended their four-day bicycle ride across the state in Chicago. The riders were remembering officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.The ride came nearly three weeks after Chicago Police Officer Richard Francis was killed on the job and was a fundraiser for the organization Concerns of Police Officers [COPS]. That group helps families of fallen police officers.

This year, COPS raised thousands of dollars. The ride was the fourth annual one across Illinois. It ended Sunday in front of at police memorial wall near 18th and Waldron.

A couple dozen riders began the 385-mile trip. Sunday, their trek was to Chicago, and they arrived at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Participants included current police officers from Chicago and other cities in Illinois. Several participants were surviving family members of officers, and in one case, an F.B.I. Agent. The organization's members help families get through the most difficult time of their lives.

"It was amazing. One of these riders put his hand on someone's back so many times and pushed them so they could make the bike ride. When they are holding out our hands to each other, [they pull us] through very difficult times in our lives," said Toni Hardesty, wife of fallen FBI agent.

"My brother was killed in the line of duty in 2006, and they have been a great help to me. They were the only people that could reach me. It is my turn to give back and help the people that need to be helped. It helps me heal," said Marsha Williams, sister of a fallen officer.

Williams is the sister of a Metro police officer that was killed in the line of duty. She said this was her first ride, and she plans on doing it again.


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