COLORADO — On Sunday, 14 cyclists with really sore legs and chapped hides arrived at the border with New Mexico for the conclusion of the annual Shield 616 Border to Border ride. Colorado-Springs-based Shield 616 hosts fundraising events across the region in order to purchase body armor and other gear needed by local law enforcement and firefighters.
The ride started on Thursday at the border with Wyoming. The road crew and support vehicles traveled through Walden, Kemmling, Leadville, Poncha Springs, and Alamosa in the 4-day event.
"We've certainly seen a lot of miles, we've climbed a lot of hills, it's been great to grow with this group and grow close to all of them," says News5's Ira Cronin, who joined the group this year.
"I've been doing this for four years and I came at first because I like riding bikes, but I've stayed for four years because of what this means to the community and the police officers it supports," explains one of the riders.
During the ride, the group stopped in Leadville to donate body armor to the police department. The department provided a police escort as the group rode out of town.
"After 8 miles, the officer pulled over and he stopped and he gave each one of us a hug and thanked us for being out here on behalf of first responders, raising money for the Shield 616 donated vest that he now wears, that's what I'll carry with me for ever," says Ira.
The genesis of SHIELD616 began during Jake Skifstad’s time with the Colorado Springs Police Department. “One of my worst days was being involved in the Planned Parenthood active shooting, and I said our protectors need the best available equipment that is out there,” he explains.
The original idea for the fundraiser started with Cary Katalin, a former chaplain with Colorado Springs Police. Jake recalls, “He (Cary) said, 'I have an idea for a fundraiser.’ and I said, ‘Great! what are your thoughts?’ And he said, ‘I would like to ride across the state of Colorado; a border-to-border bicycle ride.’ I said, ‘People would want to do that?’ and he said, ‘Yes, I think they would.’ "On our first year (in 2016) we had seven riders.”
To support the ride across Colorado with Team SHIELD616, CLICK HERE
Jake says, “It means so much that this is a community effort. I would encourage everyone that there is no small donation, if you can one donate one dollar, five dollars, ten dollars, we tell people all the time that at the end of the day it all adds up to something life-saving.”
To learn more about SHIELD616 and their mission, you can visit their website HERE