As Sgt. Vickie Warehime rides her bicycle 320 miles from Floram Park, N.J., to Washington, D.C., she does it out of respect for, and in honor of fallen officers.
Warehime and about 1,200 other police cyclists from around the country are participating in Unity Tour 2011—an event that benefits the families of fallen officers and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
"It's an extreme honor to be able to participate in this event and to give back to the families of the officers who lost their lives," Warehime said May 5 before leaving for New Jersey. "It's very humbling."
On May 9, she and 600 officers ride from New Jersey through the Holland Tunnel, passing around Ground Zero in New York City, out of respect for those who died in the 9/11 attacks.
Throughout the nearly four-day trip, the cyclists have police escort and often average about 25 miles per hour, Warehime said.
The group will meet up May 12 with 600 more cyclists and ride into the U.S. capitol two-by-two—an awesome sight.
In that formation, "we represent the thin blue line between chaos and control," she said.
But the ride isn't the end of their journey, and the most poignant moments are yet to come when, May 13, survivors of fallen officers come into Washington D.C., and a candlelight ceremony is held at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Before the ceremony, the cyclists wear their uniforms and line up along the memorial, Warehime said. Each escorts a family member past the memorial, to their seat, and presents them with a rose.
This year, Warehime rides to represent Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero.
Prothero was an off-duty county police officer when he was killed Feb. 7, 2000, during an armed robbery at a Pikesville jewelry store.
He was a married father of five who was working part-time as a security guard. When Prothero followed the robbers out of the store, he was shot twice and died an hour later at a local hospital.
"Riding in an officer's honor is one of the most honorable things that we do," Warehime said of the ride.
The 1,200 officers couldn't make the ride without the support of their family, friends, and employers, because it takes time and money to achieve, Warehime said.
To participate, each rider must raise a minimum of $1,800. The money supports the upkeep of the memorial, and pays for the cyclists' expenses.
Warehime has already begun sending photos of the journey in to Pikesville Patch. Click here to see more Unity Tour 2011 photos.
Memorial in Towson May 13
A Baltimore County event will be held at 10 a.m. May 13, at the Patriot Plaza, 401 Bosley Ave., Towson. There, the Baltimore County Police Department will gather to honor officers who died in the line of duty, as well as those who died while serving county residents, according to a statement.
Eight Baltimore County police officers, including Prothero, have died in the line-of-duty in the history of the department.
Correction: The original version of this story listed the wrong dates for the Unity Ride. We regret the error.