Memorial ride honors EMS workers
BY JENNY WHITE
Rocky Mount Telegram
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
ROCKY MOUNT — A group of men and women braved wind and rain to ride into Rocky Mount on Monday afternoon.
A pack of about 20 cyclists pedaled down Sunset and then Winstead Avenue finishing up at Nash UNC Health Care after 70 miles of riding — including a few miles in severe storms and possible tornados.
“It was not a boring ride,” said Kate Passow, the ride coordinator for the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride that started in Raleigh earlier in the morning.
Participating riders take on the challenge of a 400-mile bike ride to honor and remember EMS workers who have died, some in the line of duty. Passow said the trek will end in New Harbor, Md., where the riders will meet up with another group and participate in the National EMS Memorial event that is set to honor about 25 EMS workers who died in the line of duty in the past year.
Passow said family members and co-workers submit names of those honored and typically attend the ceremony.
“Most of the cyclists have a tie to EMS in some way — either they are an EMT or paramedic or nurse or pilot — and feel that it’s important to honor EMS professionals who have passed away and those that still do important EMS work,” she said.
Riders travel an average of about 70 miles a day and plan to arrive in Maryland on Saturday.
The cyclists were welcomed by staff at Nash UNC, who offered the group an area to sit and relax in the cafeteria and a catered dinner.
Kim Langston, director of the Nash UNC Health Care Emergency Department, said she was taking part in welcoming the bikers to show her appreciation for all EMS workers do.
“EMS workers do so much for our community and really are unsung heroes,” Langston said. “I love what this group is doing, especially how they’re honoring fallen employees. We’re all honored to be able to do this small part for them.”
The riders were appreciative of the meal, including Mike Kennard of Nottingham, N.H. Kennard is retired after working as a paramedic for 40 years.
Kennard estimates he has participated in about 23 rides with National EMS Memorial Bike Ride since he started in 2006.
“The first one I did, I did it because I thought it would be fun,” Kennard said. “But after the first one, I realized what it’s about and now I do it to remember those who we’ve lost.”
He said that when he’s traveling the 70-plus miles a day, he thinks about those who will be honored in Maryland, as well as EMS workers he learns about along the way.
“I’ve met people on these rides who come up and hug me and thank me for riding and tell me about their loved one who was an EMS worker. I ride for them too,” Kennard said.
Kennard had two names printed on his shirt: Tim Costa and Isaac Greenlaw.
“They’re two guys I got to know doing the bike ride and they’ve since passed away, so I keep them in my thoughts too.”
Kennard said he was ready to ride when the group left at about 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning to make it to Petersburg, Va., by nightfall — more than 100 miles away.
“The camaraderie we all have together is another reason I do it over and over again,” Kennard said. “All of us have ties to EMS and it’s like a family.”