Dani Bush’s father was an avid cyclist.
Before his death from pancreatic cancer in 2012, Det. Phil Bush had served on Placentia PD’s bike patrol team. Mountain biking was among his favorite hobbies.
Next week, his 16-year-old daughter will jump on a road bike and pedal for roughly 150 miles to honor her father’s memory – and the memories of injured and fallen officers.
Phil Bush spent 15 years at Placentia PD. He loved being a cop and especially enjoyed working big dope cases. He was working on assignment with the DEA when he got sick. He was 46.
“He’d be balling like a baby,” said Heide Bush, Dani’s mother and Phil’s widow. “He’d probably say, ‘I’m so proud of you, Monkey.’ He’d be in tears.”
Dani Bush will be the youngest among hundreds of cyclists participating in the 630-mile Project 999 Ride to Remember, which starts at the California Police Memorial in Sacramento on May 15 and ends May 18 at Westminster PD.
Her goal: Raise $5,000 for the nonprofit, which aids officers injured in the line of duty and supports families of slain officers. She’s already netted nearly $4,000, her mother said.
A Villa Park High School sophomore, Dani plans to ride with a team from San Luis Obispo to Westminster.
“Last year, I was given the opportunity to ride the last 30 miles,” she wrote on her mother’s GoFundMe page. “It’s an experience I will never forget.”
Her mother said Dani got the idea after the untimely death of another Placentia police officer – Lt. Ken Alexander, 48, a long-time friend and colleague of her father’s who’d suffered a massive heart attack.
“She had heard that Ken had ridden in the past,” Heide Bush said. “It was all her. She reached out to Project 999” and made it happen. “It was a moving experience for everybody.”
She has since gotten serious about cycling, her mother said, and now regularly trains.
Dani’s charity efforts don’t end with Project 999; she volunteers at Ronald McDonald House, is involved with Girl Scouts and is a Seaman in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps.
Dani, her mother and siblings – Nathan, 25, Nick, 21 and Katie, 15 – have also made quilts for about a half dozen families of officers killed in the line of duty.
On Mother’s Day, the Bush family will serve dinner and tea to families at the Ronald McDonald House in Orange – a tradition that began before Phil got sick.
Then they will head to Yosemite to carry on another tradition with their father – camping in Yosemite.
On the 17th, mother and daughter will arrive in San Luis Obispo, where Dani will ride while her mother trails behind in a support vehicle.
“(Mother’s Day) is not about flowers and gifts. It’s about spending time together and serving others,” Heide Bush says.
And that’s really Dani’s motivation for riding.
“It’s her way of putting her hand behind her and helping others with a hand up,” her mother says. “We’ve been helped a lot. When Phil was sick and after he died, we were held up by our neighbors, our church, the police department; there were so many people who made sure we had the support we needed.
“She wants to raise awareness for fallen and injured officers.”
Donations can also be sent to OC Sheriff’s Advisory Council/Project 999, P.O. Box 241, Santa Ana, CA 92702.