NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two dozen cyclists have been crossing the country for the past couple of weeks as part of the Tour of Duty Ride. According to the organizers, the ride’s purpose is to thank and remember those on the front lines who put their lives on the line to protect us every day.
“We started in San Diego on August 11th and we’re going to be in New York City visiting on September 10th. We have 24 riders, they’re half Australian, half American, and they’re either firefighters, police officers, or members of the military.” Linda Giammona, the Executive Director of the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, told CBS 2’s Dick Brennan. “Paul Ritchie, who’s the director of this tour of duty is the brainchild of it all, he originally did this back in 2010 as a run across the country and this time we’re riding. And I’m riding too.”
Giammona’s brother was a member of the FDNY killed on September 11.
“He was celebrating his 40th birthday on September 11th, unfortunately we weren’t able to meet him home and celebrate that evening.” she said.
Giammona is also participating in the ride.
“It’s tough just to be in white lycra in 110 degrees, in Phoenix, AZ. But it’s been a tremendous opportunity for our charities, the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, which is just one of two charities that the Tour of Duty ride is benefiting,” she said. “I get to represent those families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty and we want to say thank you. We want to say thank you to our military, we want to say thank you to our police officers and our firefighters and we want to let them know that we really appreciate the sacrifice that they make for us.”
On one of the rides during a rest stop, Ritchie presented Giammona with a portrait of her brother, Captain Vincent Giammona, who was a captain with Ladder Five.
“This portrait is just an amazing example of what the tour of duty ride has meant to me because it really does celebrate those people that sacrifice for us on a daily basis so I’m really taken back by this portrait.” said Giammona.
“What’s special about it for me personally is the fact that our charity [is running a website], answerthecallblog.org, what we’re doing is, I’m riding every mile in honor of a police officer or firefighter or member of the U.S. military so when I look down at my handlebars every day and see the name of someone who’s unfortunately sacrificed their lives for us, it inspires me. I think the message is to celebrate our first responders every day, not just on September 11th. Every day.” Giammona said.
“Because of this ride, we’re once again standing together. And the best part, if there is a silver lining to September 11th, is September 12th, and that was when the world just gave our community, the New York community, a hug. That’s what this ride is about,” she said. “It’s remembering that we can all stand together as one, and celebrate those people who really do take care of us every day: locally and globally.”
The ride concludes on September 17 at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.