Several members of the Los Angeles Fire Department are among a group of Southern California firefighters riding across the country to honor the memory of those lost during the 9/11 attacks and raise money for two charities.
A ceremony to kick off “” was held early Sunday morning at the in Hollywood. The six members of the cycling team were introduced: Scott Hambly, James Prabhu, Jorge Ostrovsky, Scott Smith, Marv Williams and Randall Wright. The group is raising money for the Leary Firefighters Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project.
The ceremony included vendors, a performance of the national anthem, a prayer for the riders and salutes from local fire chiefs and dignitaries. Original Engine and Squad 51 from the TV show Emergency! led the riders out of Hollywood, followed by local riders and friends, the LA Fire Hogs, and members of Fire Velo, a nationwide fire department-based cycling club.
Ostrovsky, an L.A. city firefighter, explained that for him, the ride started 10 years ago.
“I remember being at Fire Station 71, staring at the television set …saw the towers burning," he said. "The worst part about it is I’m a firefighter and firefighters do not sit around and watch people die."
“This whole time I felt a pull to get to New York to see what I could do to help," he added. "It’s taken me 10 years to finally do something. I can’t really do anything for the men and women that died that day, but I can do something to help their memories stay alive. I feel that our ride across the country will symbolize what we can do as a country and as Americans."
Williams retired two days ago after serving as a L.A. city firefighter for 35 years.
He said that he had always wanted to do a cross-country trip and is glad to do one now in memory of the firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11.
“We’re giving back to them and keeping them in our memories,” Williams said. “We’ll be suffering on the road, but their families are still suffering. It’s great to give back to them plus raise money for two charities.”
noted the admirable effort of the firefighters.
“I want to salute each and every one of you," he said. "It is an honor to see you off from this spot and wish you well."
LaBonge also offered salutatory documents to honor the efforts of the riders.
The cyclists will pedal about 100 miles the first day.
They will travel a total of 3,3307 miles and cross 15 states within the next 47 days, arriving in New York at the FDNY Firefighters Memorial on Sept. 9 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Follow their journey on ridefor9-11.org.