By: Sean Welsh
Six Harford County law enforcement officials were among 100-plus local cyclists to participate in a 265-mile Unity Tour earlier this year.
The tour raised awareness for police officers who have died in the line of duty, according to a release from the Harford County Sheriff's Office.
The trek, held in May, took the deputies through Philadelphia, Delaware and Maryland before ending in Washington, D.C. The deputies raised $14,000 for the four-day ride, the release said.
“I am certainly in awe of the miles they rode but moreover am so proud of them for taking on this challenge. And further knowing that what they did is done so that others will never forget the sacrifice those who have died have made,” Sheriff L. Jesse Bane said in the release.
Bane added: “We cannot bring back the deputies who have lost their lives but their memories live on through events such as the Unity Tour. It’s those memories that sustain us as we continue to serve and protect our communities.”
The Aberdeen police department and Harford County Sheriff's Office both lost officers in the past year.
DFC Matt Schueler, one of the coordinators for the ride, said in the release: “I was so glad that I was able to be a part of it ... Not only was it a personal achievement to complete all 265 miles, but to ride in memory of a fallen officer is the real incentive."
Schueler said he rode in memory of five Harford deputies who lost their lives in the line of duty, and also for his great great grandfather, Thomas J. Barlow, who died in the line of duty in 1937, the release said.
“It is such an honor to ride carrying their names and supporting their families” Schueler said in the release.
“It is unlike any other ride,” said Cpl. Eric Gonzalez. “You are representing your fallen peers and you feel a sense of determination to keep riding when it gets tough. It gives me an overwhelming sense of pride to know we are riding for a great cause and to know the families appreciate what we have done to represent their loved one."
The race culminates with the riders giving a bracelet to family of a fallen officer, the release said.
Gonzalez said: “The feeling of handing over the Unity Tour bracelet to the family in the end is an emotional experience that I just cannot put into words."
Harford's deputies raised $14,000, which will go to the Law Enforcement Memorial and future museum, the release said. Nationwide some 1,600 riders raised $1.72 million, according to the sheriff's office.
Deputies Eric Gonzalez, Andrew Sampson, Javier Moro, Michael Yeagy, Matthew Schueler and Matthew McGuirk participated from the Harford County Sheriff's Office.
Visit www.policeunitytour.com for more information about the event.