PERU - As a retired New York State Trooper, Robert W. Cronin will tell you being a member of law enforcement is like being part of a family. That's what has compelled him to raise money for his former brothers and sisters in uniform and their loved ones.
Cronin has registered to participate in the 8th annual Tour de Force 9/11 Memorial Bike Ride, a 265-mile bicycle ride from Boston, Mass., to the site of Ground Zero in New York City. The four-day event, which will be held from Sept. 11-14, will raise money for families of police officers killed in the line of duty and honor the lives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Cronin said he became interested in the event after one of his friends participated last year.
"He did it and knew I would enjoy it, too," Cronin said.
Though the ride is an ambitious and challenging one, Cronin isn't a stranger to cycling. Since 1995, he's been seen on roads throughout the North Country and even participated in events like the annual CVPH Mountain to Lake bike ride from Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington to Plattsburgh and a 100-mile bike ride hosted last year by the Adirondack Bicycling Club.
"This is different. I've never done anything like this," he said.
However, that didn't stop Cronin from signing up. The event will be a chance for him to honor the memories of fallen police officers like Joe Longobardo and Dave Brinkerhoff, who were each killed in the line of duty in separate incidents. Both men were members of the New York State Police Mobile Response Team, of which Cronin was one of the original members.
The chance to honor the memory of his fallen comrades was enough motivation for him, he said.
"As soon as I knew I could sign up, I did," said Cronin. "I enjoy riding a bike and with this, I can ride for a good cause."
Since registering, Cronin has been continuously training on a stationary bicycle during the winter months. On average, he rides an hour a day, five to six times a week. As more seasonable weather approaches, he plans to take his exercise routine to the open roads in preparation for his interstate journey.
Though Cronin's bicycle won't hit the pavement in Boston for another five months, he has already hit the ground running collecting pledges for his participation in the memorial bike ride. In order to participate, he must raise $1,000, all of which goes toward the cause, said Cronin.
"I'm shooting for a lot more than that. I'm hoping between $3,000 and $5,000," Cronin said.
"These guys go to work and don't know if they're going to come home again," Cronin continued, referring to those who serve in law enforcement. "And, if they don't for the families left behind, it's a tough time for them. We have to do what we can to help them through."
Those interested in donating toward Cronin's participation in the 8th annual Tour de Force 9/11 Memorial Bike Ride may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or make an on-line pledge in his name at the event's Web site, www.tourdeforceny.com.