Porter County Sheriff's Department

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Memorial Run Honoring Hoosier Heroes

Kosky| The Times

Indiana Concerns of Police Survivors riders depart from the Porter County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday morning. The cyclists were riding from Merrillville to South Bend on Tuesday as part of a 13-day, 1,000-mile bicycle ride for Indiana Concerns of Police Survivors, a group that provides support and services for the survivors of fallen police officers.


Bicycling across the state for those who can't

Ken Kosky

Merrillville police Sgt. Tim Finnerty's love of bicycling led him to join the team that rode through the region Tuesday as part of a 1,000-mile ride across the state to benefit the survivors of fallen officers.  But what keeps Finnerty doing the grueling ride each year is that he gets to meet the families of officers who died in the line of duty, and because he hears firsthand how the money he helps to raise benefits the survivors. Finnerty and the rest of the Indiana Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) team -- with police cars and motorcycles escorting them -- pedaled through Lake and Porter counties Tuesday.  The COPS ride, now in its fifth year, raised $54,000 last year. The money pays for counseling, legal services and more for survivors, and it also funds trips to Washington, D.C., so family members can visit the memorial wall and see their loved ones' names on it.  Bloomington police Senior Patrol Officer Monica Zahasky, wearing photos of fallen officers on her bicycling jersey, said she's riding "to pay respect to the fallen officers and let the survivors know their heroes will never be forgotten."  Wherever the cyclists go, they meet with survivors and read short biographies about the fallen officers to keep their memories alive.  Indiana State Police Lt. Col. Danny East, one of the COPS riders, said the pain of doing such a long bicycle tour is nothing compared to what loved ones go through when a police officer is killed.  "The survivors and their appreciation for what we do (the fundraising ride) fills us up. That's the reason we do it," East said.  Their support truck features the photographs of the seven Indiana officers killed in 2007 and this year, and it bears the number 377 -- marking all the Indiana officers who have died in the line of duty over the years.  "We'll never forget our fallen heroes," said the ride chairman, Indiana State Police Trooper Rich Crawford.  Among the survivors attending a ceremony with the cyclists Tuesday at the Porter County Sheriff's Department were Larry Hecht, father of fallen Porter County officer Tim Hecht; and Lake County police chief Gary Martin's widow Olga Martin and daughter, Jennifer Martin-Luskey. Gary Martin was killed during the 2006 COPS ride.

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