Mint Hill’s Sgt. Thomas McKenzie and Matthews’s Capt. David Dufresne will strap on their helmets again this year as officers hit the road for the annual Bike to D.C. ride.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department along with law enforcement members throughout the area come together once a year to make a 500-mile bicycle ride to the nation’s capitol in celebration of National Police Week and to honor fellow officers who have lost their lives while on the job. The group will ride more than 100 miles per day over the four-day trip, with police escorts and stops along the way.
“I’ve known several officers over my career who have passed away in the line of duty,” Dufresne said. “… I figured it would be a good way for me personally to recognize those that have died.”
Officers throughout the county are raising money before hitting the road in May to help pay for the ride and raise some additional funds for the Charlotte Mecklenburg FOP Foundation, an organization that helps families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty. The goal for this year’s ride is to raise $70,000. Donations will go to food, lodging and support for the more than 100 riders participating in the event.
McKenzie, with the Mint Hill Police Department, will host a fundraiser on Feb. 1, a Saturday, from 6 a.m. to noon. The bake sale and yard sale will take place at the McEwen Center, and McKenzie is looking for donations to make the event a success and send him on his way to Washington, D.C., for police week and to see the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
“If (other officers) haven’t been to the police memorial, I think they should definitely go see that and attend National Police Week,” McKenzie said. “The memorial really hits home about how dangerous the job is and you can sit there and honor the people who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The Mint Hill sergeant also is selling T-shirts, $10 for a short-sleeved shirt and $15 for a long-sleeved shirt, at the police department at 7151 Matthews-Mint Hill Road, and Big Guy’s Pizza at 6914 Matthews-Mint Hill Road in Mint Hill will donate a portion of its proceeds from 5 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 8, a Saturday, to McKenzie’s ride.
Dufresne, with the Matthews Police Department, has not scheduled any fundraising events, but donations can be made to both officers by credit, check or cash. Find more information about donations at www.biketodc.com. Click on “How You Can Help.”
Although McKenzie and Dufresne are the only officers in Matthews and Mint Hill currently signed up to participate in the ride, both are still trying to recruit fellow officers to take part in the four-day event.
“If you have been in service long enough, but even if you are new in service and have known an officer who has been slain, it’s a tremendous experience,” Dufresne said.
CMPD began the Bike to DC ride in 2007 after officers Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark lost their lives in the line of duty. Some officers wanted to do more to honor the lives of their friends and took a 370-mile bike ride to Washington, D.C. The ride has now grown to nearly 100 officers and 500 miles.
Find more information about the ride and where to make donations at www.biketodc.com.