WPD officers raise funds for families of fallen officers

Submitted photo

 

From left, Winona Police Department Officers TJ Heiden and Anthony Wurst biked 250 miles and raised nearly $10,000 as part of the Road to Hope, a national event to honor officers who died in the line of duty and support their survivors.

From: Jay Rasmussen, WPD deputy chief of police

 

Recently, two officers from the Winona Police Department (WPD) participated in the Road to Hope bike ride. Before we name these two individuals, here’s a little explanation of what the ride is all about.

The Road to Hope is a 250-mile bike ride from the area of Chesapeake, Va., to Washington D.C. Each law enforcement officer that participates in the ride is responsible for raising a minimum of $1,500. The Road to Hope is organized by a volunteer-driven organization titled, Law Enforcement United (LEU). LEU’s mission is to “honor the service and sacrifice of all law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty and remember the survivors left behind.” LEU provides awareness and monetary support for The Road to Hope ride, The Officer Down Memorial Page, Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) as well as other organizations.

WPD Officers Anthony Wurst and TJ Heiden represented WPD by flying to Virginia the week of May 8 to take part in the 2022 Road to Hope ride. After getting their registration confirmed and tying up other loose ends, they took to the streets on May 10 through May 12 trekking 250 miles toward Washington, D.C. While biking, they were surrounded by hundreds of other officers and survivors all with one purpose – to honor fallen officers and their surviving family members. During the ride, Anthony and TJ talked about how they met survivors from Racine, Wis., Myrtle Beach, S.C., as well as Minnesota, to name a few. To hear the stories of the survivors and bear witness to their strength and courage was, as Anthony and TJ put it, extremely humbling. 

Upon arrival in Washington, D.C., TJ and Anthony eventually hung up their bike suits and each donned a Class A uniform. They then met up with thousands of other officers from not only the United States but from areas around the entire world such as Egypt and Israel!

Anthony and TJ also visited the Law Enforcement Memorial where the names of over 22,000 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty are forever etched in stone. TJ and Anthony commented that words can’t describe the feelings they had while visiting the Memorial. There are pictures of kids, wreaths, trinkets, and other items honoring the fallen. Like TJ said, “The magnitude of their impact is felt by everyone present.” 

The ride culminates with the start of National Police Week and a host of speakers to include officials from the White House.

The week that Anthony and TJ were away was an experience they hold near and dear. For each of them, this was their second year of participating. But, it’s important to note that their participation began long before the week they were gone. In addition to being physically fit for the ride, they also spent a significant time reaching out to individuals, businesses, organizations, and nonprofits to explain the purpose of the ride and seek donations. They were amazed at the generosity of donors. Anthony said that in addition to the generous donations received, the words of encouragement offered by people were inspiring.

Anthony and TJ’s work paid off. Together, they raised almost $10,000! Team Minnesota actually raised over $60,000. So, putting it in perspective, the efforts of Anthony and TJ were phenomenal. Anthony actually received the Top Individual Fundraiser Award!

Anthony said that the main reason he does this ride is to honor fallen officers and keep their memories alive. He plans to do it next year, too.

TJ, who also plans to ride next year, said that he does this ride to keep the legacy of the officers alive. “The camaraderie between the officers, survivors — it’s unlike anything else I’ve experienced,” he said.

Thank you, Anthony and TJ, for representing WPD at such an incredible event!