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The Bancorp Partners with The Brotherhood Ride to Honor Fallen First Responders
Whether it is rescuing victims of a building collapse or a house fire or trying to protect and serve their communities, first responders risk their lives every day. In Naples, Florida, one group of firefighters has made it their mission to remember those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Since 2008, the Brotherhood Ride has brought together firefighters, law enforcement, and emergency medical personnel for an annual bicycle ride to pay their respects to the fallen and offer condolences and support to their families.
In June 2007, Jeff Morse, a firefighter for the North Collier Fire Rescue in Naples, Florida, received word that a fire in Charleston, SC, had cost nine firefighters their lives. At the time, the fire was one of the deadliest disasters for firefighters since the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001. To ensure his fallen “brothers” were never forgotten for their heroic work, Jeff and his fellow firefighters founded the Brotherhood Ride. A year later, Jeff and a volunteer team of first responders raised funds for the first Brotherhood Ride — a 600-mile bicycle ride to Charleston, SC, to meet with the lost firefighters’ families and deliver some financial relief.
Over the past 13 years, the Brotherhood Ride has donated more than $500,000 to the families of fallen first responders.¹
It Takes a Village
Riding 600 miles or more can be a challenge for the volunteer first responders. None are professional cyclists, and some don’t have any experience riding long distances. However, they devote days and sometimes weeks of their time to the ride, leaving their families and using vacation time to remember those lost in the line of duty.
The Brotherhood Ride has traveled over 9,800 miles, across 16 states to honor 597 first responders that include firefighters, law enforcement and emergency medical personnel.¹
Moving a large group of cyclists and support staff over hundreds of miles is not an easy task. People get hungry and need to make rest stops, bikes break down, and the group requires a place to sleep at night; supplies, such as food and water, need to be carried as the caravan of dozens of people moves toward their destination.
The Brotherhood Ride has also built another team, one that enables them to provide most of the funds raised to the families of those lost. This team includes the support of individual contributors and sponsors like The Bancorp, bicycle manufacturers and the American Legion. For the past seven years, The Bancorp Commercial Fleet Leasing has provided a pickup truck for the ride. Nicknamed “The Chuckwagon,” the truck pulls a trailer of supplies needed for the journey. The cyclists and support staff also have the critical support of Elks Lodges and fire stations that provide them with meals and a place to sleep throughout the trip.
The 2021 Brotherhood Ride
As this year marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Brotherhood Ride is even more meaningful. The ride honored both local first responders lost in 2020 and those who died from illnesses related to their life-saving efforts at Ground Zero in the days weeks after 9/11. Unfortunately the tragedy of that day still affects the first responders and some of the on-site survivors. Twenty years later, the number of first responder and survivor deaths due to inhaling toxic materials will exceed the nearly 3,000 lives lost on that day.2
Like their ride in 2010, the cyclists and their support team traveled 1700 miles — logging 70 to 100 miles per day — to New York City. Along the way they visited the families of the 2020 fallen first responders and gave them a gift from the funds raised throughout the year. Finally on 9/11/2021, the team completed their ride at Engine 10, Ladder 10, across from Ground Zero.
While this year’s ride has ended, Jeff Morse and his team of cyclists and support team will continue to honor their commitment to “never forget” the fallen on next year’s Brotherhood Ride.
The Brotherhood Ride
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