Firefighters gear up for 400-mile memorial bike ride
Updated: Updated 07/21/2012 05:17 PM
By: McKinsey Harris
CHARLOTTE--Thirty firefighters from the Carolinas and Florida are gearing up for a 400-mile bicycle ride from Wilmington to Asheville, to honor a fallen brother. It was nearly one year ago that Captain Jeffrey Bowen from the Asheville Fire Department died while working a fire, and next week, these men will be bicycling from the coast to the mountains all, in Bowen's memory.
"Just reaching out and letting people know that one, we still care even though it's a year later, we still care about Captain Bowen and his family, we still care about Asheville, he's not forgotten, he's not died in vain. And just want to raise awareness for firefighter safety and what we do every day on a day to day basis. This could've happened anytime, anywhere in the country, any fire station in the country,” said Jim Squittieri, a firefighter with the Charlotte Fire Department and co-organizer of the ride.
For some participants, such as Jim Squittieri's brother, Florida firefighter Joe Squittieri, it's going to be a new adventure.
"I haven't ridden a bike since middle school, so this will be interesting,” said Joe Squittieri.
While he never knew Bowen, he says he felt it was important to show his support for a fellow firefighter.
"The great thing about the fire department is the brotherhood. So we don't necessarily have to know anybody to show support and unity, so it really doesn't show any boundaries through state lines,” said Joe Squittieri.
They say the impact the ride will have on Bowen's family and the communities they pass through, will be their motivation to keep pedaling all the way to Asheville.
"It's supposed to be difficult. It's supposed to suck, it's supposed to hurt. You're paying homage to a guy. I have the opportunity to be able to go home and see my kids every night, so through this and through the aches and the pains and the blisters and sweat, blood and tears, you're paying homage and saying thank you,” said Jim Squittieri.
So far, the Carolina Brotherhood ride has raised more than $31,000, all of which will go to Bowen's family. They plan to cycle every year, honoring a fallen firefighter or police officer.
If you'd like to learn more about the Carolina Brotherhood, see their planned stops, track their ride, or donate to the cause, go to Carolina Brotherhood
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