CLEVELAND - Northeast Ohio played temporary host overnight to the 24 riders that make up the Tour of Duty cross country bike ride.
The riders took off August 12 from San Diego for the ride to New York City that takes them through Phoenix, Denver, St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore and Philadelphia to name a few cities they hit.
The ride commemorates and honors the 2,973 victims who died on September 11, 2001, including the 411 first responders as well as all those who serve in the military. The group made up of twelve cyclists from the U.S. and twelve from Australia will end at the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2012.
"The coming together of twelve Australians and twelve Americans really to show our respect and admiration for veterans that have served and are serving since September 11," said Phoenix Fire Captain Greg Hawk.
The trip which raises money for charities that aid service members and their families as well as victims of 9/11 required a number of sacrifices on the part of the participants.
"I moved my whole world around so I could make it," said Renae McGarvie, a police officer in the Northern Territory Police department in Australia. "Left my two children, took some time off work and remortgaged the house and I am," she said adding she wouldn't have traded the experience for anything.
The trip is one Aaron Huisman will long remember for different reasons. The firefighter/paramedic from outside San Diego took a fall outside Little Rock, Arkansas and ended up breaking his collarbone in four places.
With the tour continuing on he was able to arrange to have surgery in Nashville five days later where a plate was put in, six days later he was riding again. "The first couple of days after surgery was bad so it was doable, it was a little uncomfortable," he said.
"The cause that we're doing it for, me going through a little bit of discomfort on the bike seems pretty, a small price to pay."
The group stopped off at a fire station in Rocky River Monday night for dinner after a 115 mile ride in from Toledo. A Rocky River firefighters happen to notice the group was coming through and arranged the impromptu feast in just a few days.
"Apparently they liked it, it's mostly gone," joked Rocky River Fire Chief Chris Flynn.
Firefighter Hawk of Phoenix appreciated the effort. "Absolutely, I'll tell you what that's the best home cooked meal. I figured they were "B" shifters the way they rolled that out for us," he said.
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