MEDINA, Ohio — Onlookers gathered along the streets of Medina’s Square all the way up Court Street to wave flags, take pictures, and greet a group of cyclists who made their way into town. Medina police, ambulance and fire trucks escorted the riders through the city.
“Just to let them know we are here and we are supporting them,” said Patty Taylor, who was one of those onlookers.
The group is biking across the country, in a trek they call ‘Bay to Brooklyn,’ to honor the lives lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
It’s a trek of more than 3,500 miles and it lasts for more than 40 days, but the organizer of Bay to Brooklyn, Darrell Sales, said it’s for one purpose: to make sure the first responders who are gone, are never forgotten.
“We wear the 343. We carry it wherever we go,” said Sales. “That’s the number of firefighters that died along with the other 3,000 people that died on 9/11.”
Sales said the group of 10 cyclists is made up of retired and active firefighters and military service members.
Michael DeLeo is a battalion chief with Cal. Fire and one of the riders. He said the 100 miles a day is grueling, but worth it.
“I had a couple of rough days a few days back. I had some pretty bad leg cramps,” he said. “But just thinking that is just a minuscule feeling of some of the loss, some of the feelings that first responders have experienced.”
The group left Aug.1 and the goal is to make it to New York City in time for the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
“What happened 20 years ago happened to FDNY. It was their loss, but all of us felt it,” said Sales.
The group stopped in Medina to visit the 9/11 memorial outside of the city’s Fire Station 1.
“Each memorial that we see has its own beauty to it,” said Sales. “We turned the corner and saw all of the people and it was overwhelming.”
Taylor said she came out to support the group because it’s important to remember the lives lost that tragic day in American history.
“I can remember the exact moment what was happening in my life, when it occurred, and it still is a shock thinking about it all this years later,” she said. “With so much division with the country right now and the difficulty we are going through, I think this is perfect timing to remember how we came together when this first occurred on 9/11.”
DeLeo echoed her sentiment.
“All of riders are from different political backgrounds, upbringings and all those things, but one thing we can all agree on is the spirit of this country,” he said.
The group’s next stop is Salem, Ohio.