New Castle News

November 5, 2013

Police officers to ‘ride for Jerry’

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Two Lawrence County policemen are conditioning for a pedaling event in order to honor a fallen local officer.

Steve Brooks, a New Castle patrolman, and Chad Adams, a sergeant in Pulaski Township, are joining this year’s Police Unity Tour, a four-day, 300-mile bicycling event that raises awareness of Law Enforcement Officers who have died in the line of duty.

“We’re riding for Jerry this year,” said Adams, 39, making the trek for the first time.

Their ride will be in memory of William J. “Jerry” McCarthy, a Shenango Township policeman who lost his life in an on-duty traffic accident May 2.

Brooks, 30, has completed three tours and his enthusiasm — and McCarthy’s death — sparked Adams’ desire to make the trip.

The bicyclists are required to raise money in their communities, part of which will fund their trip expenses. All leftover money they raise will go to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum.

The organization sponsors a marble wall of names of police officers from across the United States and Canada who have died in the line of duty. The wall is in Judiciary Square in Washington, D.C.

When National Police Week comes up each May, the roll call of the thousands of officers is read at the wall during a candlelight vigil.

This year’s roll call, set for May 13, will include McCarthy’s name.

According to Brooks, each rider in the Unity Tour must raise a minimum of $1,750.

Brooks and Adams are starting their fundraising now so they meet their quota by the May 9 start date.

The riders will arrive in Washington May 12, during National Police Week — May 11 to 14.

“Everyone rides for an officer who died in the line of duty,” Brooks said.

“We both decided to ride in memory of Jerry,” Adams noted.

“Jerry’s one of our own and I think we should be there to represent him,” Brooks added.

They will wear engraved bracelets with McCarthy’s name on them. At the end of the Unity Tour, they are to give the bracelets to the officer’s family members.

“You see a lot of these cycling jerseys at the candlelight vigil,” said Brooks, who was sporting a blue jacket from a previous year’s ride. “You have to ride to get the jacket.”

He’s been bicycling for many years and got interested in the movement while researching officers’ line of duty deaths.

He raised most of his donations via social media — email and Facebook — as well as family, friends and local businesses.

Last year’s donors included Sam Phillips of Edinburg, who gave money from the memorial fund of her daughter, Danielle Kennedy, 16, who had died in a car accident in 2006 in Mahoning Township.

The Unity Tour procession is an impressive sight, according to Brooks, who said the ride follows interstates.

“They shut down the New Jersey Turnpike when we cross the Commodore Perry Bridge over the Delaware River into Chester, Pa.,” he said, adding the routes are all closed for the riders.

“They have hundreds of police motorcycle escorts that shut down the highways and officers in the towns control traffic for us.”

The riders are greeted in the towns with firetruck ladders with American flags hoisted on them, he said. Children come out of schools with flags and cheer and wave as they pass, he added.

Brooks trained the first year by riding about 600 miles.

Adams said he’s been physically training since December and started bicycling in April.

The Police Unity Tour started in 2007 with 18 riders. Now more than 1,000 police officers participate.

Last year, the event raised $1.72 million for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Anyone who wants to donate to the local officers’ mission may obtain a donation form from Brooks’ or the Pulaski Township Police Department’s Facebook pages, or by calling their police departments at (724) 964-8891, extension 104, for Pulaski, or (724) 656-3570 for New Castle to have one faxed.

Adams noted that Randy Courson, a Pulaski patrolman who had saved a teen’s life in a traffic accident, also will be honored during National Police Week.

“Lawrence County is going to be well represented there next year,” Brooks said.