The Illinois Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors will hold its 11th annual Cycle Across Illinois, a charity bicycle ride to support the Illinois families of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
The approximately 325-mile ride will begin at the Mississippi River in Alton and end at Gold Star Families Memorial and Park, just east of Soldier’s Field in Chicago. The riders are law enforcement officers from many agencies, in addition to family survivors and supporters.
During each day, the group will observe dedications to officers who have died in the line of duty. As the ride moves across Illinois, the riders will be joined by law enforcement agencies that will escort them through their jurisdiction. Families, supporters, universities, agencies and local businesses also have joined to help feed and provide rest areas for the riders. These donations enable Illinois C.O.P.S. to focus resources that send survivors to programs that help them begin healing and form lasting, supportive relationships with other survivors.
The ride began in the summer of 2005, with 10 riders and two support trucks. This year, there will be more than 50 riders and several police and support vehicles. Each rider is required to raise a minimum of $600 in donations. This ride began with the inspiration of Lt. Gary Dudley of the Indiana State Police, who rode with the organization in July 2006. In August of that same year, Dudley was killed in Indiana doing a similar ride for survivors in Indiana.
The following is a summary of the ride’s tentative itinerary:
5 p.m.: Riders arrive in Pontoon Beach
6 a.m. : Ceremonial back tire dip into the Mississippi River in Alton
12:11p.m.: Lunch at First Baptist Church, 180 N. Grove St., Waverly, Ill.
3:51 p.m.: Riders arrive at Illinois Peace Officers Memorial adjacent to State Capitol
7:30 a.m.: Riders leave University of Illinois Springfield
10:52 a.m.: Riders arrive at Lincoln Police Department
12:13 p.m.: Lunch at Atlanta Fire Protection Department
3:56 p.m.: Riders arrive in Bloomington/Normal, hosted by ISU, ISU PD, Normal PD
7 a.m.: Leave Bloomington/Normal, northbound toward Pontiac
12:22 p.m.: Arrive in Dwight, Ill., lunch at Hager Memorial Home
6:21 p.m.: Arrive at Lewis University
7:30 a.m.: Riders leave Lewis University, toward Orland Park PD
8:32 a.m.: Arrive at Orland Park
9:49 a.m.: Arrive at Oak Forest PD — Remembering Officer Morrissy
11:14 a.m.: Arrive at Oak Lawn PD
12:42 p.m.: Arrive at Gold Star Memorial and dipping of tires in Lake Michigan
1:37 p.m.: Arrive at CPD Headquarters
There are several surviving family members on the ride in addition to the family members riders will be meeting.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 133 police officers died in the line of duty in 2014. One was from Illinois: Officer James Morrissy of Oak Forest. The ride also will pay tribute to three other historical names: Sgt. Myron G. Deckard (Vermillion County Sheriff), Special Agent Virgil Lee Bensyl (Illinois State Police) and Deputy Sheriff Charles J. Haney (Livingston County Sheriff).