Brotherhood Ride pauses in North Fort Myers
With staff and officials from local safety agencies greeting them, cyclists of Brotherhood Ride stopped for a short rest Thursday in North Fort Myers before completing their journey in honor of fallen Fort Myers police officer Andrew Widman.
A group of 36 cyclists made up of firefighters and law enforcement officers from across the state and as far away as Texas opted to take part in the six-day ride.
It was a 413-mile trek, which comes to fruition today in downtown Fort Myers.
Jeff Morse, of the North Naples Fire District, is president and founder of the organization called Brotherhood Ride.
“The ride has been a life-changing experience,” he said. “When people say they are going to dedicate something to a person, there is always a time on our ride where the guys have to rededicate themselves and dig deep to complete the journey because of some type of adversity.”
The heat and rain were obstacles this year.
“It was 26 miles of rain when we went into Wauchula,” Morse said. “Every person said, ‘Let’s do this for Andy,’ and we got the miles done for the day.”
The ride benefits Widman’s family.
Widman was shot and killed when he responded to a disturbance on July 18, 2008.
People who worked with Widman shared their personal experiences.
“Mrs. Widman also gave us some highlights of his life,” Morse said.
Officer Keith Curr, of the Fort Myers Police Department, was part of the ride. He worked with Widman.
“I worked with him on the day shift for a couple of months,” Curr said. “He was a beautiful person, that’s all that needs (to be) said.”
Bob Branch, of the Houston Fire Department, Ladder Co. 77, joined in the local ride.
“It’s just like the title implies: brotherhood,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where it happens, firefighters and police officers will be there when support is needed.”
Branch said he drove from Texas and participated in the charity ride last year.
“It’s been an amazing journey so far,” Candy Morse, Jeff’s wife and a fellow cyclist, said. “We started on the one-year anniversary of Officer Widman’s death. We did a loop through Arcadia, Winter Haven and Wauchula, and through Cape Coral, Punta Gorda and Fort Myers.
“This is one of our many stops,” she said Thursday. “We’re trying to stop every 10 miles, and the Shell Factory hosted us last year.”
Bicyclists were also spotted at the Hope Chest Parking lot, next to SunTrust Bank, in North Fort Myers before they finished their journey.