NORTH MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Hundreds of cyclists hit the road on day one of a five day, 270-mile, charity bike ride in support of the families of fallen Florida law enforcement officers.
“It’s important for us to remember those who lost a family member, a brother, a husband, a sister. So this kind of event that sends chills down your spine in a good kind of way, it’s important, I am happy to be a part of it,” said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Wells.
This year’s ride will be for seven officers and their families including Miami police Officer Jorge Sanchez, a motorman killed last year when he was rear-ended by an SUV at the intersection of 8th Street and 137th Avenue on his way to work.
“We want to make sure they are not forgotten and they know they are loved and still remember, that we still feel their pain,” said North Miami Beach police Officer Roberto Quinones.
Also being honored this year is Florida Department of Corrections Sgt. Jorge Ramos who left behind a wife and eight-year-old daughter.
“Honestly it is an honor and just a way of remembering the person he was, the worker he was, the husband and the friend he was,” said Ramos’ wife Milagros.
For the past 20 years, Florida’s ‘Tour de Force’ charity ride has been providing financial support to the families of fallen officers. It started after Trooper Robert Smith was killed by a drunk driver while on duty. His wife Lisa is riding for the first time.
“I feel like he is riding on my coat tail, it is awesome, it is really awesome,” said Lisa Smith.
Law enforcement officers and civilians taking part in the exhausting ride say it’s the least they could do for their those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“When you get on the bike and feel a little pain and you realize someone gave their entire life for your freedom and rights, you realize this is no pain, it is a very humbling experience,” said Manny Miranda.
Close to 250 cyclists registered for the ride. Day One started in North Miami Beach and will end 50 miles away in Boynton Beach. Tomorrow and throughout the week they will do it all over again until they reach Daytona Beach, their final destination.