By G. Michael Dobbsnews@thereminder.com
SPRINGFIELD – Springfield Police are looking for public support for their annual effort to salute fallen officers.
Last year, members of the Springfield Police Department decided to honor fallen officers Kevin Ambrose of Springfield and Jose Torres of Westfield by undertaking a memorial bike ride from Springfield to Boston.
The ride generated $85,000 in contributions, which the Springfield officers turned over on May 7 to the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial. The officers also announced they would ride again on Sept. 20 to honor Officer Sean Collier of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney, one of the Ride to Remember’s organizers, said some of the fund’s would be used this year to support Christina’s House in Springfield, a “Christ-centered ministry developed to meet the needs of women and their children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,” according to the ministry’s website.
Last year, 220 police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians participated in the ride, Delaney said, and this year more than 300 riders are expected.
Delaney said that he, Officer Edward Van Zandt, Officer Michael Goggin and Capt. Cheryl Claprood developed the idea of the ride. He said the 106-mile ride was “one of the best days of our lives.”
Delaney added, “It put Springfield on the map. But more importantly it put the Law Enforcement Memorial on the map.”
The Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization started in 1995 to build and maintain a memorial for Massachusetts law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty. The memorial is near the State House.
This year’s goal is to raise $100,000 and the organizers are looking for sponsors as well as contributions from the public. Supporters have included Peter Pan Buslines, Smith & Wesson, Big Y World Class Markets, Competitive Edge and Garvey Communications.
Retired Police Chief Edward Merrick Jr., who is the executive director of The Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, said that he was a bit skeptical about the ride.
“It sounded like a suicide mission,” he joked.
He added he had “ordered 60 ambulances at the State House, but we didn’t need many of them.”
There are more than 350 names currently on the memorial, Merrick said, of officers who have “made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Delaney said that people or businesses interested in made a contribution or learning more about the Ride to Remember can contact him either at 265-8255 or at firstname.lastname@example.org