By Eddie Drews
INDIANAPOLIS —Dan Dudley is setting out on his bicycle to take a 1,000-mile journey to honor his brother.
Every summer, dozens of police officers and law enforcement family members and friends ride around the perimeter of Indiana to raise funds and awareness of the sacrifices made by Hoosier law enforcement families.
Dan Dudley, brother of Lt. Gary Dudley, says that this is his 10th year riding in the event. Photo by Eddie Drews, TheStatehouseFile.com
For Dan Dudley, the 13-day trip is extra important, because his brother organized the original ride before being killed while riding when a traffic crash happened in Vermillion County.
“My brother, Gary Dudley, was an Indiana State Police Officer,” Dan Dudley said as he prepared to start the ride Monday. “He was killed on the ride in 2006.”
Lt. Gary Dudley and with retired Lake County Police Department Chief Gary Martin were both killed when a large truck hit the back of a support truck, sending the support truck into the cyclists.
Cyclists who were riding that day keep the memories of Lt. Gary Dudley and Chief Gary Martin by continuing the ride. Since then the annual journey has gone through changes, but the main goal of honoring law enforcement and the survivors left behind has stayed.
This year’s ride honors Deputy Carl Koontz, of the Howard County Sheriff’s Department, who died in the line of duty last year.
“Carl’s death, like all other line of duty deaths, underscore the reality of the risk of law enforcement that we all face every day,” Howard County Sheriff Steve Rogers said at the departure ceremony Monday on the Statehouse grounds.
Gov. Eric Holcomb offered support to all the riders, saying this event is much more than just an annual bike ride.
“But something that’s really become a mission and what really speaks to what we, as Hoosiers, are really all about — serving and protecting those in the line of duty,” he said.
Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks to riders before their departure. Photo by Eddie Drews, TheStatehouseFile.com
Holcomb said that even though many Hoosiers take law enforcement officers’ work for granted, they still step up every day and do it effortlessly.
Following the speeches at the departure ceremony, all riders and guests took a knee to commemorate fallen officers before they hit the road to Kokomo. They’ll end their ride on Saturday, July 22 at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. The complete itinerary can be found by visiting CopsCycling4Survivors.org or by following the Cops Cycling for Survivors Facebook page.
In addition to treasuring all the survivors and friends of law enforcement who come out and ride each year, Dan Dudley also appreciates the support they get along the way, such as the honks and waves.
“Gary started this and we’re honored to keep it going,” said Dan Dudley.
Eddie Drews is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.