Police, survivors embark on bike trek

Chronicle Media

The 20th Cycle Across Illinois bicycle ride, a fundraiser for the Illinois Chapter of Concerns for Police Survivors, will take place Thursday through Sunday.

Officers and the families of fallen officers will embark on a 305-mile, four-day bicycle journey to raise funds for families in need.

In 2005, Cycle Across Illinois was initiated as a memorial and fundraising bicycle ride across the state. The participants and support members are a group of survivors and police office

The Illinois chapter was established 20 years ago following a meeting between some officers and Lt. Gary Dudley of the Indiana State Police and Gary Martin, chief of the Lake County (Ind.) Police Department.

On Aug. 22, 2006, Dudley and Martin lost their lives during a cycling event. Their memories and motivation continue to inspire the annual cycling event.

Two longstanding members, Curt Kiebles, a retired Wheaton officer, and David Johnson, a sibling survivor of Todd C. Johnson of the Rock Island Police Department, have been participating in the ride for 20 years, keeping the spirit of Lt. Dudley and Chief Martin alive.

In 2023, 136 law enforcement officers and 29 K9s lost their lives while carrying out their duties in the United States. In Illinois, two Chicago law enforcement officers, Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso and Arèanah M. Preston, as well as one K9, Hudson, from the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, died in 2023.

“As we traverse Illinois, we are frequently met with gratitude from families, departments, and communities,” said Deputy Susan Deuchler of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, a five-year participant of the ride. “In an effort to better support our families and honor our fallen, we diligently manage our resources to ensure that more funds are available for attending memorials and retreats to aid in their grieving process.

“Your thoughtful consideration of a donation to our ride and organization would be sincerely appreciated as we continue our mission to provide support for our families and cherish the memory of our fallen heroes. Our Illinois Chapter, a subdivision of a national organization, is unwavering in its commitment to assisting the surviving family members of law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. From emotional and psychological assistance to offering support for financial and legal challenges stemming from the loss of a loved one in the law enforcement profession, our organization stands as a pillar of support for those in need.”

To learn about the Illinois Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization run by volunteers, go to www.ilcops.org/.