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Carolina Brotherhood ride honors lives of fallen first responders

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Riders arrived in Raleigh after a 463-mile ride through Carolinas (WTVD)

Dozens of first responders rode into Raleigh Friday afternoon, completing a five-leg bicycle trip that took them 463 miles through South Carolina and North Carolina.

The Carolina Brotherhood organizes an annual cycling event involving firefighters, police officers, and other emergency personnel from the Carolinas who ride in the name of fallen brethren. The ride raises money for families of first responders who have died in the line of duty.

The cycling charity event was established in 2012, and is now in its fifth year. According to their website, the Carolina Brotherhood continues the mission to honor the memory of the fallen and build awareness and appreciation of their sacrifice. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice over the last year include:

  • Firefighter Thomas Lee of the Four Oaks Fire Department

  • Firefighter John Gupton of the Justice Volunteer Fire Department

  • Chief Ricky Doub of the Forbush Volunteer Fire Department

  • Sergeant Jeffery Greene of the Union County Sheriff's Office

  • Officer Alexander Thalmann of the New Bern Police Department

  • Officer Jason Crisp of the United States Forestry Service

  • K-9 Maros of the United States Forestry Service

  • Lieutenant John Burns of the Myrtle Beach Fire Department

  • Investigator Holmes Smith of the Clarendon County Sheriff's Office

  • Patrolman Robert Blajszczak of the Summerville Police Department

  • Deputy Joseph Matuskovic of the Charleston County Sheriff's Office

  • Firefighter Kellen Fleming of the Westview-Fairforest Fire Department

This year, the ride began in Columbia, South Carolina. Riders made stops in Greenville, S.C., Rock Hill, N.C., Salisbury, N.C., and Swepsonville, N.C. The ride concluded in Raleigh at the North Carolina State Highway Patrol Memorial on Garner Road. Several police and fire departments assisted them along their way.

"Doing this brings us together," said Dena Ali of the Raleigh Fire Department. "We met so many families this week and we cried with them. They let us know how much they appreciate it. We really felt like that what we are doing is important and it reminded us that we are a brotherhood, and we're here for each other and we're here for the right reasons."

North Carolina Troopers Association Caisson Unit participated in the ride. The group carries the body of a fallen first responder to his or her final resting place with a horse and carriage team, similar to that of the 3rd Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army, known as the Old Guard.

The Caisson wagon is known for its use at Arlington National Cemetery, where it has carried fallen soldiers and former United States Presidents to their burials.

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