A group of cyclists recently rode into Brownstown escorted by the police.

After stopping for lunch in Brownstown, they continued on their trip around Indiana riding to remember the fallen law enforcement officers who served Indiana.

“We ride to remember the fallen police and to meet the families of the fallen,” said Rich Crawford, president of the Cops Cycling for Survivors ride.

The ride has been going for the past 15 years, each year remembering a different officer who died serving the public.

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This year, the ride is to remember Carl Koontz, a Kokomo officer who died in the line of duty.

The event was a fundraiser for the families of the fallen and for organizations that support those who died serving as officers of the law.

“We’re very transparent. You can go to our website and see exactly where all the money we earn goes to. You can also track our progress through the ride,” Crawford said.

The ride travels around the perimeter of the state raising money and meeting with the families of fallen officers.

“The first time I did the ride, I was really nervous meeting the families of fallen officers,” said Jim Rutkowski, a St. Joe police officer. “I was worried it was reopening the same old wounds year after year.”

Rutkowski said he sees all of the time how many organizations rise to remember fallen officers, but then they finish, and sometimes the family is left behind.

“We come back year after year to let them know their officer will never be forgotten,” Rutkowski said.

He said he got involved in the effort after going through knee surgery and being given riding as a form of therapy. He also had a co-worker, Paul Deguch, die in the line of duty.

The ride went from Brownstown north to Bloomington before continuing north to Indianapolis for a memorial ceremony for Koontz in Indianapolis.

“You hear a lot about the negativity about law enforcement right now, but we haven’t seen any of that,” Crawford said. “Everyone has been very welcoming.”

Gerald Morrow of Seymour joined the ride the day before it found it’s way to Brownstown.

Morrow said he enjoys riding and was came across the Ride to Remember in 2016, but it was too late register because the ride is limited to 30 riders a day.

“I registered for it earlier this year,” he said.

Morrow raised $200 for the cause.

On the Web

For information about Cops Cycling for Survivors, visit copscycling4survivors.org.

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Aaron Piper is a photographer and reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at apiper@tribtown.com or 812-523-7057.