CHARLOTTE – Law enforcement officers from Charlotte are on their way to Washington, D.C., to pay tribute to their colleagues killed in the line of duty.
Nearly 70 men and women left Tuesday morning on a four-day bicycle ride from the Queen City to the National Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial. The ride was created in 2007 to honor fallen CMPD officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton.
"It's a bittersweet day but at the same time it's a day of joy," said Trisha Norket, who makes sure every bike at CMPD headquarters is equipped with a blue ribbon as a tribute to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, including her son, Officer John Burnette.
Now in its fifth year, many say the ride has a renewed sense of purpose following the sudden loss of Officer Fred Thornton two months ago.
"To come to something like this just warms my heart that people remember and they don't forget, not just our son but all law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty," said Norket.
"Several have been close friends, several I've worked with and this is just a neat way to get together and just remember them," said CMPD Sgt. Victoria Suarez.
Before heading out to the nation's capital, riders took time to honor Linda Thornton, the wife of officer Fred Thornton. She then jumped into the front seat of a police cruiser, leading the way for this year's ride.
The group will arrive Friday in time to attend a candlelight vigil at the memorial.
This year, the ride helped raise more than $20,000 for the Charlotte's Finest Legacy Foundation.