June 28, 2007
By Elizabeth Dilts
Post-Tribune staff writer
For the last six
years, the 1,100-mile route police officers ride for Concerns of Police
Survivors has been long, hot and exhausting. But when the 12 cyclists rode
into Porter County on Wednesday, Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain said this year
was spiritual. "We lost two of our key components last year," said Monica
Zahasky, rider and senior patrol officer for Bloomington Police Department.
During the COPS ride last year, former Lake County Police Chief Gary Martin and
Indiana State Police Lt. Gary Dudley were killed when their supply truck was
knocked into their path. "Every year, we ride for our fallen heroes,"
Zahasky said. "This year's a healing process." Sgt. Tim Finnerty of
Merrillville police said he rides for every officer killed in the line of duty.
Still, he's spent a lot of riding time this year remembering his former boss
Martin. Spencer Moore, a retired Indianapolis police officer, broke his
back and hand in that crash last year. It took eight months for the
swelling in his brain to reduce enough for him to start training for this year's
bicycle ride. "But this isn't about me or the rest of us (riders)," Moore
said. "We ride so that that family knows that we will never forget their hero.
Period." The COPS program pays for families' counseling, camps and group therapy
for families. Sue Sobkowski waited to thank the riders who were wearing
buttons with her brother's picture, fallen officer Rob Hardesty. When
Hardesty died in a training session two years ago, he left a wife and two little
girls. "Those girls are now 12 and 9 and they have gone to the COPS
survivor camps," Sobkowski said. "COPS is with survivors all the way through."
Today, the riders leave Merrillville for Kentland then will travel to Terre
Haute and finish their ride back in Indianapolis.