A global pandemic has delayed Westminster Police Department’s memorial ride, but couldn’t shut it down.
The annual 630-mile cycling trip in memory of fallen officers was originally planned for the third weekend of May, but has been rescheduled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Quick work has put the ride back on course, hot weather or no, July 12 to 15.
“We waited as long as we could,” says ride coordinator Sgt. Bill Drinnin of the attempt to keep the event on schedule, but stay-at-home orders and public health concerns simply made the original dates impossible.
Drinnin then asked the group of 16 other riders from the Westminster Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for the best back-up dates, hoping they could find a weekend where the entire group or virtually all of them could still participate.
After working out the dates, Drinnin is thrilled just how quickly things are falling back into place.
“We’ve already reached out to our partners,” he says. “Everything is dialed in with them and though some of the restaurants we stop at are still to be worked out, there have been hardly any problems.”
That includes fundraising, which could have evaporated due to the pandemic.
“On the contrary,” he says, “we have another in-house fundraiser on June 17, our last one, and then we’re gearing up to leave in July. We are already on track to raise more money than ever before. It’s been our highest fundraising year.”
The inter-agency event was founded by retired Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Dunlap in 2001 to raise money for the Project 999 Foundation that supports officers injured, or the families of those killed, in the line of duty.
“I got involved in 2010,” Drinnin says. “I started wondering how to start it up at our agency and started asking people. They pointed me to Ron.”
Dunlap also came up with the route the riders follow from the California Peace Officers Memorial in Sacramento to Orange County.
When Drinnin rebooted the ride in 2012, he moved the end to the Westminster Police Officer Memorial, with Dunlap’s blessing.
“He gave me everything I needed and even rode with us a couple of times until he got sick and passed away himself,” Drinnin says. Dunlap died of cancer in 2017.
“Ron and I became good friends. The last thing he said to me before he passed away was he really appreciated the fact we had rekindled this memorial ride. He wanted it to keep going,” Drinnin said.
And when Drinnin and Sgt. Kevin MacCormick, who handles ride logistics, lead the others in the Code 3 Cycling pack each year, (Code 3 is the WPD’s foundation supporting fallen officers) they carry a great responsibility to Dunlap and to every fallen officer.
“The guys who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we don’t want them to be forgotten,” he says. “If that keeps their memory alive, it’s all worth it. There is a lot of heart that goes into this. It’s not a joyride. 630 miles, that’s a lot of miles.”
Drinnin says members of the public who wish to join the riders on July 15 can meet them when they rally up at Pacific Coast Highway and Second Street in Seal Beach and continue to Westminster.