600-mile ride for fallen first responders to come through Columbia

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A week from Friday, dozens of first responders will make their way through Columbia as part of a more than 600-mile cycling journey in honor of their fallen brothers and sisters.

It's all part of the Carolina Brotherhood Ride in which firefighters, police, and EMTs from North and South Carolina join together to support the families of their fallen colleagues financially and emotionally.

"It's over 600 miles in 6 days, we start In Smithfield North Carolina, and end up in Beaufort," Captain Chris Branham of the Columbia Fire Department said.

Their journey will start this Sunday, June 11, in Smithfield, North Carolina and end next Saturday in Beaufort with a stop in Columbia along the way on Friday, June 16.

Three Columbia Firefighters will make the journey, and they say it hits close to home. They'll be riding in memory of two of their own firefighters -- James Jetzke and Tyron Weston, Forest Acres Police Officer Greg Alia and Columbia Police Officer Stacy Case, all who died in the line of duty in 2015.

"I knew the Firefighters very well, Tyron and Jetzke, knew them very well, worked with them for quite a few years," Branham said. "Knew Officer Alia from working with him in the Shandon, Forest Acres area, and Officer Case -- I was there that night when she passed away. So it does hit home for me, knowing and being tied in and so I want to be there to show my support and do what I can. God forbid, but my family could be in the same situation."

Branham said along the ride they will stop in the Vista at the spot of the accident that claimed Officer Case's life in November 2015 and hold a moment of silence.

The public is invited to attend that moment of silence on Friday, as well as, the cyclists' arrival at Dreher High School. The Carolina Brotherhood riders are expected in Columbia around 5 p.m., but you can track their progress. That's also the site you can donate to the Carolina Brotherhood Ride, and Branham said the proceeds will benefit the families of those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.

"Keep the families in your prayers while we're doing this, we just want to show remembrance and that they're not forgotten," Branham said.

As they come into town, Branham said to keep in mind traffic may be a little slow, but it's important to keep in mind the reason for the ride.

"The biggest thing is the remembrance of the line of duty deaths, that's what we're here for," Branham said. "Whenever you see the cyclists going down the road in the group, have some patience, we aren't going to stop at any intersections. It's not safe for them to stop because you'll start seeing bicyclists topple over and fall over and that's not what we want to do. So just pull over, let us get by you, and we'll be gone but remember the cause while we're riding and the remembrance of the line of duty deaths while we're riding."

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