Riding triumphantly into Santa Monica Pier, 29 Fire Velo cyclists completed their 540-mile Cancer Support Ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles on August 25, welcomed enthusiastically home by Fire Chief Daryl Osby, family, friends and coworkers. These intrepid riders from fire agencies such as Los Angeles County, and the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, and Five Cities Fire Authority traveled an entire week, starting on August 19, to raise both money and awareness towards the fight against cancer. In this ride alone, over $35,000 (and counting!) was raised to assist organizations that help firefighters battle cancer, while a whopping $130,000 has been raised over the past six years through this charitable organization. "We started with about nine riders and have just grown from there," says Battalion Chief Buck Buchanan. "As the event has grown, so have our efforts to put on a quality ride."
Bringing home the significance of the cancer risk firefighters face, this year's ride was dedicated to the memory of Fire Fighter Crystal Golden-Jefferson, who passed away seven years ago from work-related non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Golden-Jefferson herself was an avid cyclist who had formed her own cycling club with her fellow firefighters before she passed away. At the welcome home party, Golden-Jefferson's parents, Dolores and Jim Golden, and her daughter, Zalika Jefferson, were in an attendance and received a frame Fire Velo jersey in commemoration of the event from Osby, a longtime Fire Velo member.
During their week-long journey, the riders made stops at seven locations along the coast, from Sausalito to Big Sur to Ventura. Each morning the team held a safety and ride briefing, as well as a moment to dedicate the day's ride to a firefighter battling cancer or who had lost their life to the terrible disease. During the ride they were accompanied by a new Fire Velo trailer (purchased with donated funds from the Annenberg Foundation) that carried essential supplies, as well as an engine or two from local fire departments. Then, at each stop they were shown hospitality by a local fire station that opened their doors, their beds and their kitchens to the happy but tired travelers. "We touched a lot of fire stations as we came down the coast," says Buchanan. "We met a lot of firefighters from other departments who shared their own stories and are very interested in joining us next year."
The welcome home party, put together by Senior Information Systems Analyst Muriel Jones and Lifeguard Section Chief Mickey Gallagher, was the high-spirited culmination of this memorable journey. Osby spoke of the importance of family and coworkers in support of others in their battle against cancer, and how this event has become an important component of that battle. After speeches and presentations, lunch was enjoyed on the beach by all.
Fire Velo would like to thank everyone for the support and assistance they received on their journey. For more information on donating to or joining Fire Velo please visit www.firevelo.com . You can also visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/FIRE-VELO/211000925661352 to see more photos and Buchanan's updates during the ride. To support Fire Velo's number one cause, the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, please plan to attend their upcoming Gala Dinner and Fundraiser on October 9 at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City. For Gala and raffle tickets, please visit http://www.firefightercancersupport.org .