Two officers with the Lakeland Police Department are gearing up to participate in the 2014 Police Unity Tour. On May 9th, Lieutenant Mike Moran, a 23-year veteran and Sergeant Mike Lewis, a 14-year veteran, will once again set out on a bike ride that will span three days and 250 miles from Portsmouth, VA to Washington, DC. The annual event’s primary purpose is to raise awareness of Law Enforcement Officers who have died in the line of duty. The tour also raises funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum in Washington, D.C. This year’s ride will be the 3rd for Lt. Moran and the 2nd for Sgt. Lewis. The pair of riders have been training all year for the ride.
“I am an avid cyclist and also passionate about law enforcement and recognizing the officers that have given their lives for this career,” said Lewis.
Close to their minds and hearts will be fallen officers. Lt. Moran will be riding in memory of Master Deputy Shane Robbins, from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The 15-year veteran died in the line of duty on April 26, 2013 when he was involved in a single-vehicle crash. Sgt. Lewis will be riding to honor the memory of Officer Michael Crain, an 11-year veteran of the Riverside Police Department in California. Officer Crain was shot and killed in the line of duty after being ambushed at a red light on February 3, 2013. Both Moran and Lewis will wear a metal bracelet with the fallen officer’s name engraved in it. Once arriving at the memorial site, they will present the family members with the bracelets.
“When you ride into the police memorial in Washington, DC and see the faces of the family that you are riding for, it’s heart wrenching,” said Moran. “But it’s also amazing when you get to meet the family and see how thankful they are for us remembering their loved one. It’s one of the most gratifying things I’ve done in my life.”
Both will also wear a small memento in honor of their own fallen comrade, Officer Arnulfo Crispin. Crispin was shot in the line of duty on December 18, 2011 and succumbed to his injuries three days later. “The reason I joined the tour in 2012 was to honor the memory of Arnie,” said Moran. Officer Crispin’s family will be there in Washington to greet Moran, Lewis and the other riders participating in the tour.
Riders in the Unity Tours are either police officers or family members of fallen officers. Officer Lewis shared a memory from his first Unity Tour where a woman who was riding in memory of her husband. The woman began to struggle after about 70 miles into the ride. He watched as another officer whom she had never met put his hand on her back and pushed her for the next 40 miles so that she would not be dropped from the ride. “Riding a bike for 110 miles is impressive, but to push another rider for that distance was simply amazing to witness and truly in the spirit of the tour,” said Lewis.
Started in 1997 with only 18 riders, the event has grown to include over 1,700 riders from all over the United States. In total the event has raised almost $14 million for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Each year the ride culminates at during National Police Memorial week in Washington, DC. Riders all converge at the same time at the National Law Enforcement memorial where thousands of family members of fallen officers and law enforcement supporters are waiting.
For each officer to participate they must raise $2,000. Half of the money covers the expenses of the ride and the other half goes directly to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. If you would like to support these two officers, you can make a donation through their fundraising websites.
Lt. Moran’s fundraising website: https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/moranpoliceunitytour/2014