AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Fallen officers were honored with a memorial bike run in Austintown on Sunday — a 20-year-old tradition to honor those who died while serving their community.
The memorial started in 2003 to honor slain Youngstown police officer Michael Hartzell. Event leaders decided to continue with the tradition.
“When you go out there every day and lay your life on the line, there’s something about when it happens — you know the family loses a loved one, and the community loses someone who actually had stood up for them,” said Rick Ally, president of Youngstown Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 28. “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen a lot. But when it does happen, we want those guys not to be forgotten.”
Being able to enjoy the open road, reflecting on the sacrifice of slain officers, riders are simply grateful that they are able to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“Blue Knights are a law enforcement motor cycle club promoting motor cycle safety, community and family,” said Bob Chaibi, president of Blue Knights.
Chaibi said he cannot put into words how grateful he is to be a part of the run. He said someone has to honor the fallen officers, and that’s what Blue Knights do.
“We need more officers to step up to the plate and say, ‘Hey, I want to be the police.’ But in today’s time, that is hard,” said Ally. “But I got to be [encouraging], show them it’s a good career. Public service is a good thing.”
Money raised from the run goes toward the annual memorial dinner that takes place in May, a dinner that brings together families that lost a loved one.