COLORADO SPRINGS — Why would anyone want to ride a bicycle across the state of Colorado? As a cyclist, sure it's a challenge, but why continue to do it year after year?
The answer for the SHIELD616 Border to Border ride is that it's for a good cause and there is also emotional/mental health benefits for the first responders, and really everyone involved with the ride.
Cary Katalin is a co-organizer of the ride, and explains, “I was a Chaplain with the Colorado Springs Police Department for ten years. I know the effect that some of the calls had on me.”
Cary was volunteering with the department a few times a month. “I can only imagine how the officers were impacted with what they deal with everyday.”
His wife Katie noticed the toll it was taking on Cary too. Katie says, “He started to suffer a little bit of PTSD, and he wasn't willing to talk to anybody about that,”
Cary found his mental health first aid on 2 wheels. Katie says, “He liked to ride his bike and he likes to spend time with the officers and so he started the ride to create an escape for them, to get away from the things that they see day-to-day”
Cary says, “The one thing that would clear my mind was to be able to get out on my bike and ride. I thought if we can get other officers out there doing that- how awesome would that be? And then to have the purpose of the SHIELD616 was perfect.”
Jake Skifstad is the Founder and President of SHIELD616 and clearly remembers, “Cary was a chaplain at the time, and he came up to me and said, ‘I have an idea for a fundraiser.’ I said, ‘great what are your thoughts?’ And he said, ‘I'd like to ride across the state of Colorado.’ I stopped him and said, ‘Wait a minute people can do that?’”
Seven riders including Cary rode from the Wyoming border to the New Mexico border in 2015. The team has grown every year because of the cause it supports, and the unity it builds on the team.
Katie has ridden with Cary every year and has watched the ride grow in many different ways. Katie says, “When you talk to the new guys, they'll say things like, ‘This was the best thing I could have done, this was awesome.’ They have such positive things to say about it.”
In our hour long special this Friday night November 29th at 6pm on KOAA, you'll meet some of the Colorado first responders on this year’s ride. We hope you will join us.