With friends, family and colleagues applauding their arrival, the 30 cyclists walked their bikes through Westminster PD’s courtyard, heading straight toward the fallen officer memorial.
They were led by Orange County Sheriff’s Department retired Deputy Ron Dunlap, who is battling stage 4 cancer.
“We kind of refer to him as ‘the godfather’ [of the event],” said Westminster PD Sgt. Bill Drinnin, who now coordinates the four-day, fundraising, inter-agency cycling ride. “We wanted to make sure he was honored appropriately… What better way than to have him lead us in?”
The 630-mile ride – which began May 21 in Sacramento at the California State Capitol and ended at the WPD fallen officer memorial May 24 – was started by Dunlap in 2001 to raise funds for Project 999 Foundation, which supports Orange County officers injured or killed in the line of duty.
In 2012, Drinnin rebooted the event, adding Code 3 Cycling to the cause, which is WPD’s memorial foundation supporting fallen and injured officers and their families locally and across the country as well. By ride’s end, $22,000 had been raised this year for Westminster’s memorial foundation, according to Drinnin.
The trek was made a bit more challenging this year for participants – from the WPD, OCSD and Anaheim Police Department – with a couple of days of more than 110-degree weather.
“Weather was really hot the first two days,” said Drinnin. “We had some heat exhaustion, some dehydration … some fever issues.”
But they kept hydrating and were good to go by the third day, Drinnin added.
Though the total mileage is 630 miles, the ride is divided in three groups that split up that total. It’s a challenging ride, and the participants are happy to do it in support of fallen officers.
WPD Sgt. Kevin MacCormick has been participating in the ride since 2004. An avid road biker and member of the agency’s bike team, he liked the idea of seeing California on a bicycle. But that wasn’t his only inspiration. It was also the year Motor Officer Steven L. Phillips was killed in an on-duty traffic accident.
“I also wanted to ride to celebrate Steve,” he said.
However tough the ride can get, the participants keep going in honor of their fallen brothers and sisters – 10 stars on the riders’ black-and-blue cycling uniforms represent the number of officers who have died this year in California.
“When the going gets tough and you start hurting,” said MacCormick, “you just look at those stars and you think about everything their family is going through.”