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By Paul Lonardo
Smithfield Elks Lodge To Host Brotherhood Ride For Fallen Heroes by Paul Lonardo
The Southern New England Brotherhood Ride is a bicycle club made up of firefighters, law enforcement officers, and emergency medical personnel, both active and retired. Their mission is to raise awareness of the ultimate sacrifices made by first responders and to honor the memory of those lost while protecting the properties and people whom they serve. Brotherhood Riders travel through each affected community, providing surviving family members with emotional and financial support.
As a 501(c)(3) public charity, other than the cost of conducting the ride, all proceeds raised by the Southern New England Brotherhood Ride go directly to the designated beneficiaries. No member collects a paycheck or is reimbursed for their time. Everyone involved donates their personal and/or vacation time in order to complete the mission of honoring the fallen in order to ensure that their sacrifice and their families are never forgotten.
The team is made up of two groups; the riders and the support crew. The riders travel by road bike or a tri bike, pedaling anywhere from 50-100 miles a day through all types of weather. The support crew works extremely hard behind the scenes and are the backbone of the organization, keeping the riders safe and well-nourished. The crew may not be on two wheels, but without them the ambitious riding schedules would not be endurable.
The Southern New England Brotherhood Ride is a chapter of the national organization, Brotherhood Ride, which was founded in 2007 after nine firefighters in Charleston, SC lost their lives battling a blaze on June 18 that year. Organization founders were inspired to ride bicycles nearly 600 miles from Naples, Florida to Charleston, South Carolina. They decided to make the ride an annual event, each year selecting an unsung hero or heroes from around the country to honor by riding to their hometown to provide financial and emotional support to their families, friends and coworkers.
To date, the organization has honored the memories and sacrifices of more than 500 firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel. Riders have traveled on bicycles over 8,000 miles through sixteen states and have been hosted by dozens of Elks Lodges nationwide. Past Brotherhood Rides have secured donations totaling in excess of $400,000 for the families left behind.
Last year the inaugural Southern New England Brotherhood Ride honored 14 fallen heroes who died in the line of duty by cycling through Massachusetts and Rhode Island, traveling over 275 miles in just four days, averaging 70-90 miles a day.
This summer, on Tuesday, August 27, the Southern New England Brotherhood Ride will be fully welcomed by the Smithfield Elks Lodge #2359. When Darlene Chilinski, the Lodge’s Exalted Ruler, was contacted and asked to host the riders, she agreed to accommodate the team overnight and see to it that everything is done to make their stay as comfortable as possible.
“The officers and members of the Smithfield Elks are honored to adopt the Brotherhood Riders during their trip through Rhode Island,” Chilinksi said. “It is a privilege to be able to help this organization raise funds for the families of the first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The Brotherhood Riders, about 50 in number, including both riders and support staff, are expected to arrive at 5 PM on August 27. The Smithfield Elks Lodge will provide their guests with a hearty supper and an area where they can lay down donated portable air mattresses for the night to get some sleep. They will awake early to a nutritious breakfast the following morning before they pack up and get back onto their bikes to head to the next location on their pilgrimage of honor and remembrance.
This is sure to be a big event, with town dignitaries, the media, and area police, fire, and EMT personnel, as well as Elks officials and members from other lodges on hand to greet the bike team. To witness this event and support the cause, you are invited to stop by the Smithfield Elks Lodge at 326 Farnum Pike late in the afternoon on Tuesday, August 27.
For more information visit www.snebrotherhoodride.com.