Kent native Adam Loeser, left, now a firefighter in California, is part of the "Ride for 9-11" group of firefighters who are cycling cross-country to New York City to honor the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Ten firefighters are riding from the southern California area to honor the 343 firefighters killed in the attacks at Ground Zero. The riders left July 24 and plan to arrive in New York City on Sept. 9 — with stops along the way across the country, including in Loeser's hometown of Kent, OH. Courtesy Adam Loeser Photos (1)
Among the firefighters riding 3,300 miles cross country under the "Ride for 9-11" banner is 1992 Theodore Roosevelt High School graduate Adam Loeser, who has been coordinating his hometown stop with Kent firefighter Brock Murphy.
"They were originally talking about staying in Akron, but since Adam is a Roosevelt grad from Kent he was instrumental in getting them to stay the night in Kent," Murphy said. "So we talked to our fire chief, and he OK’d us to have them spend the night at the station.”
Loeser, who now works as a firefighter at station one in Fullerton, CA, said six of the firefighters are on the road full-time. He rode the first 500 miles the first week and will join the team to ride the last 1,100 miles into New York City.
"The biggest point … is just that it’s a group of firefighters that are honoring the 343 firefighters that died during 9-11, and to remember the people that have supported us and kind of taken up the torch of service personnel that are around the world and protect us on a day-to-day basis," Loeser said. "I’m excited that we’re able to go through Kent."
Loeser said two firefighters in Los Angeles County came up with the idea to ride to Ground Zero in New York a few years ago to honor the firefighters killed in the attacks. He joined the ride to represent firefighters from Orange County and south of Los Angeles County.
A support team is driving along — at a slow crawl — in a motorhome behind the cyclists, and a two-man film crew is shooting the trip for a documentary. All 10 riders from the southern California area serve as financiers, ride organizers, marketers, cooks, drivers and bicycle mechanics.
"It was a lot of different hats that all 10 of us have had to wear to learn a little bit about how to make the whole ride work," Loeser said. "It’s working great. It’s been well received in every city and town that we’ve gone through."
The riders hit St. Louis, MO, Monday. Days earlier they were greeted by firefighters in Oklahoma City, OK.
Loeser will join the group either in Indiana or Toledo. They will then ride into Akron before traveling through Cuyahoga Falls and Stow on their way into Kent. The route can be traced here.
Murphy said they plan to have a police and fire escort guide the riders from the Stow-Kent border east on S.R. 59 to downtown Kent, where the Kent Jaycees will welcome the riders with a meal in Home Savings Plaza. Information on their stop in Kent is available here.
Murphy said he encourages Kent-area residents to line the route and cheer on the firefighters as they ride into Kent next Tuesday. They're expected to arrive in Kent between 3 and 4:30 p.m. Aug. 30.
"It’s hard to say that far out," Murphy said.
They will leave Kent for Pittsburgh the next day.
The riders left California July 24 with the goal of hitting New York in 45 days with stops in Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., along the way. They plan to arrive in New York City on Sept. 9 and finish the ride at the FDNY Firefighters Wall.
The ride is raising money for The Leary Firefighters Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project.
Loeser, a long-time athlete, said the riders trained on 100-mile marathon rides for the memorial trip. One of the toughest parts was stringing together 100-mile bike rides day after day.
But he said it's not about the length of the trip, the lightning, hail storms and other obstacles the riders have run across.
"It's not so much about me or the individual guys," he said. "It's just a group of guys who are trying to make a little bit of a difference."