AKRON – Hundreds of motorcyclists rode into town today, pausing to pay respects to fallen police officers from all over the area.
“Our main goal,” says Sgt. Andy Ezzo with the Cleveland Division of Police, “was never to let people forget our fallen.”
This is the 19th annual Police Memorial Motorcycle Rally, and it drew an estimated 500 riders.
“It’s just overwhelming that so many people are interested and willing to commit their time and energies remembering officers that have been killed in the line of duty,” says Akron Police Chief Ken Ball.
The ride started in Cleveland, and ended in Bedford Heights. It snaked its way to and from Akron through the Metroparks.
While in downtown Akron, the riders paused for a short, but solemn ceremony honoring the fallen.
The ride pays tribute to officers no matter where they serve.
“That’s why there are so many jurisdictions, and so many people involved in this,” says Munroe Falls Police Chief Jerry Hughes.
The chief knows one of the riders very well – his daughter, Jenni.
“As a matter of fact, he paid for our registration,” Jenni says. “Because I wanted it as a birthday gift, so it means a lot to me, means a lot to my dad, and it means a lot to a lot of people.”
The police officers appreciate the support of family and friends, and are especially touched by people who ride but have no direct connection to law enforcement.
“At a time when we need that feeling of support from our community, they just come rumbling in,” says Akron FOP President Frank Williams.
“It’s an extremely good turnout,” says rider Sam Stolfo. “I’ve ridden in a number of different runs, and never seen a turnout like this.”
The money raised goes to scholarships and to help the families of fallen officers. In 19 years, they’ve raised about $300,000.
Seeing the bikes ride down the road, Sgt. Ezzo says “It’s surreal and overwhelming” to see that much support for police officers.