“It is our hope to help them in their darkest hour.” That’s how Pete Biviano of Carolina Brotherhood explained why police officers and firefighters from all over South Carolina and North Carolina will ride 500 miles in five days on bicycles beginning Monday in Columbia.
Firefighters and police officers founded Carolina Brotherhood five years ago as a way to help the families of fallen comrades. “There is a whole lot of support in the beginning, and then we hope to come in and fill in behind and be the long-term emotional support,” Biviano explained.
The bike ride idea was born after a similar ride honored the Emanuel Nine. Several Brotherhood members took part, and suggested a similar event in honor of firefighters and police officers who died in the line of duty.
The riders gathered Sunday in Columbia, and received a warm welcome. Community sponsors provided food for a cookout, and Music Farm Columbia offered its facilities for dozens of local firefighters, police officers, families and supporters to join the riders for supper.
Many at the dinner wore Brotherhood T-shirts with an American flag on the back. A closer look at the flag revealed that the stripes held the names of the fallen, going back decades and proceeding to the four most recent additions to the list of heroes: Forest Acres Police Officer Greg Alia, Columbia Firefighter Tyron Weston, Columbia Police Officer Stacy Case, and Columbia Firefighter James Allen Jetzke Jr. The shirts are for sale online, with all proceeds going to support the families.
The ride began with a ceremony Monday morning at the First Responders Remembrance Memorial in Columbia, and will conclude in Raleigh on Friday. For more information on the Brotherhood, or to purchase a T-shirt or donate to their cause, click here.