SHIELD616 riders started this year's 480-mile Border-to-Border ride on Wednesday for a 5-day event to raise awareness and funding for the Colorado Springs-based organization's mission to help first responders by providing protective gear.
For the fourth year in a row, KOAA News5's Ira Cronin will be joining a team of riders dedicated to helping raise funds for SHIELD616. The riders will travel over 480 miles over 5 days from Utah to the Kansas border. The ride will take them through scenic Colorado to start. Tune in to KOAA News5 for more updates as we follow along for the ride.
Last year, we helped the organization raise more than $66,000 during the event. Know that your donation goes towards to purchase of life-saving equipment. Each set of gear for a first responder costs $2,400.
So far, we've helped raise $23,300 for the organization thanks to your donations to the KOAA drive. We'll find out this week the total from all the SHIELD616 Ride efforts.
Your donation can help our first responders.
On Sunday, August 7th, 2022 El Paso County Deputy Andrew Peery gave his life in the line of duty, trying to save Alex Paz who had been shot and killed by her ex-husband. The two deaths have deeply impacted many people in our community.
Immediate families, first and foremost - as well as friends neighbors and so many others including everyone at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fountain Police Department who also responded to the shooting call that Sunday afternoon.
Ahead of the SHIELD616 border-to-border bicycle ride this week across Colorado, both Sheriff Bill Elder and Fountain Chief Chris Heberer sat down with me to try and discuss the loss of deputy Peery and the impacts on their departments.
As a former Colorado Springs police officer, SHIELD616 Founder and President Jake Skifstad, knows the most difficult challenges being a first responder brings.
“We as law enforcement, are expected to protect you from whatever threat there may be," said Skifstad. "If it involves a rifle, we don't have protection against that.”
After having experienced some close calls during local active shooter incidents, Skifstand realized that Southern Colorado law enforcement needed better protective gear. SHIELD616 may have been formed out of local tragedies but has now become a nationwide effort to protect those in the line of duty.
The Border-to-Border fundraiser ride began when Chaplain with the Colorado Springs Police Department, Cary Katalin approached Skifstad with the idea.
Katalin had been volunteering with the department a few times a month and had turned to ride his bicycle as an escape most days.
“The one thing that would clear my mind was to be able to get out on my bike and ride," said Katalin. "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.”
In 2020, the SHIELD616 team also trekked from the Utah border to Kansas, with a stop in Colorado Springs. Our Jon McMichael chronicled the ride across the state. Follow the adventure in SHIELD616 Border to Border Ride 2021: Protecting our First Responders
SHIELD616 stories: The day that forever changed Officer Adsits' life
SHIELD616 stories: The day that forever changed Dan and Christine Brite's lives
SHIELD616 was born out of some of the worst tragedies in southern Colorado
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