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2021 Border to border ride has biggest ambitions yet to protect first responders in everyway

Posted at 8:23 AM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 08:52:06-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — This year's SHIELD616 border to border ride across Colorado is bigger and more ambitious in every way.

This year's ride will be nearly 500 miles traveling from west to east from the Utah border to the Kansas border.

This year's ride aims to raise enough funds to outfit 10 separate Colorado agencies with rifle rated ballistic vests and helmets.

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This year, SCHEELS in Colorado Springs has come onboard as the title sponsor of the ride.

Grady Milesko, is an assistant store manager at SCHEELS who explains, “One of the biggest things that we value at SCHEELS and one of the commitments to the community is to do good in our communities. Doing good in our communities means giving back 10% of our store profits through the year and through our foundation. What we are doing for SHIELD616 this year as a title sponsor is donating $20,000 and we asked SHIELD616 to direct some of the funds to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and some of their game wardens. We know it's so important for them and to all the first responders that are receiving the equipment through this year’s ride.”

including 10 parks and wildlife game wardens who are sworn peace officers.

Another sponsor of SHIELD616 is Dickey's BBQ Pit. Local owner Bob Rusnak wanted their funds directed this year to the Monument Police Department.

Bob says, “For every big yellow cup that we sold we donated a quarter. Over a year we sold a lot of big yellow cups, and so we pulled that money with other stores along the front range. Dickey’s corporate office asked me where we would like to spend that money to buy protective gear for local police. We know some folks up in Monument, and we decided that the police department there could probably use some new protective equipment.”

Bob wasn’t always a BBQ restaurant owner, which is one reason why protecting our first responders is close to his heart. Bob says, “As a retired Air Force cop I have been around the world in many different places. I realized early on the efficacy of having the right kind of protective gear. In my military career I had the chance to run a couple of Air Force SWAT teams, and we did a lot of "Shoot Don't Shoot" training. It's amazing how those split-second decisions can change your life. We want to make sure that the cops in Monument and really all of El Paso County have as much of the protective gear that we can get them, so they can go home at night safely back to their families.”

In 2020 Grady joined the SHIELD616 cycling team, and spent four days riding across Colorado from the Wyoming border to the New Mexico border raising funds for the Black Forest Fire Department and the Steamboat Springs Police Department. Grady says it helped him discover how impactful the Border to Border ride is. “I think the protective ballistic equipment is one part of what SHIELD616 gives first responders. Being on that ride and being part of that team is a really special thing. You get to share the experience and the suffering and the difficult challenge of biking across Colorado in four days with first responders from all over the state. I think one thing they gain from it and one thing that SHIELD616 provides in addition to the protective equipment is much more than just a vest and a helmet. It's also knowing that the community is behind them, it's knowing that the community supports them not just physically, but emotionally and it's powerful.”

Grady also says, those levels of support are very important to show right now. “I know police departments and first responders throughout our nation have had a difficult couple of years, and knowing that the community supports them in this way is powerful.

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