By Aila Boyd

The Town of Buchanan welcomed cyclists from Law Enforcement United last Friday at the Buchanan Town Park during the group’s annual Tough Ride.

The stop in Buchanan was part of the Roanoke Division’s 250 mile/three-day ride from Roanoke to Washington D.C., which honors fallen law enforcement officers and raises money to support the families of fallen law enforcement officers. The group arrived in the nation’s capital in time for the start of National Police Week, which runs from Sunday, May 12 through Saturday, May 18.

National Police Week spawned out of a 1962 proclamation that President John F. Kennedy signed, which declared May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day. Now, National Police Week is a weeklong annual celebration that occurs in Washington D.C.

This marked the fourth year that the cyclists have stopped in Buchanan. Cyclists from 17 different states participated in the Roanoke to Washington D.C. route.

In order to participate in the ride, cyclists had to raise $1,500. Funds raised go to benefit The Road to Hope, Concerns of Police Survivors, The Officer Down Memorial Page, and Spirit of Blue Foundation. Also, Law Enforcement United requires that all cyclists either serve in law enforcement or are the survivor of a fallen law enforcement officer.

Michael Gary, a major with the Pentagon Police, has been with Law Enforcement United since its inception in 2009 and serves as the Tough Ride coordinator.

Gary said that when a fellow officer with the Pentagon Police died in the line of duty, he became aware of the concerns that survivors of fallen officers have, which sparked his interest in getting involved with organizations like Law Enforcement United.

Our favorite part is always getting to meet with survivors, especially the children of officers,” Gary said.

Concerns of Police Survivors holds a week-long summer camp every year for the children of fallen law enforcement officers that Law Enforcement United fully funds.

They get to go be with other kids who have experienced the same trauma,” Gary said of the camp. “It’s one of the things we really enjoy doing.”

He went on to explain that some of the children who participated in the camp are now adults and participate in the yearly ride.

Now they’re actually supporting the same thing that they were a recipient of, so it’s really nice to see that,” Gary said.

On day one, cyclists traveled roughly 117 miles from Roanoke to Harrisonburg. Day two took the cyclists on a 104-mile journey from Harrisonburg to Manassas. The last day of the ride was the shortest, a 61-mile trip from Manassas to Washington D.C.

Once the group arrived in the nation’s capital, they met up with cyclists from the Pennsylvania Division, New Jersey Division, and Ruff Ride cyclists.

Throughout the three-day journey, the cyclists stopped at various locations along the route to honor fallen law enforcement officers and engage with their family members. Additionally, the cyclists stopped at local law enforcement agencies along the route to honor the work that they do.

The vision statement for Law Enforcement United, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, states, “To raise awareness of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. Provide monetary and awareness support for: The Road to Hope Bicycle Ride, Project Active Armor, Concerns of Police Survivors, The Officer Down Memorial Page, and Spirit Blue Foundation. Assist other charitable organizations that share our common goals.”