The Gulf Coast Brotherhood of cyclists kicked off their five-day bicycle ride across three states to honor fallen heroes at each destination. Meridian was among one of the stops to honor fallen hero Eric Charles Gustafson from the Meridian Fire Department. We hear from one of the cyclists about how they maintain the drive to bike across three states and what it means to do them to do so.
"We are different agencies from the three states Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, and South Carolina. We are all First Responders, Firemen, Police, and EMS, and we ride in honor of the fallen first responders. This year, we're riding from Hoover, Alabama, went to Birmingham and we're going all the way across to Monroe, Louisiana. And we are honoring ten different fallen first responders," said Louis Lynn.
Eric Charles Gustafson was the Meridian honoree who passed away back in 2016 while answering an emergency call. His mother was present for the Commemoration and expressed how it felt to have her son being remembered by so many.
"I'm very, very proud that they've remembered Eric in such a special way. It's been it's been a great honor for me to witness so many people that have that are remembering my son, a very great honor. My family is so appreciative," said Jan Gustfson.
This year the group of cyclists will be riding 452 miles and climbing up the hilly foundation of Alabama and Mississippi which takes a lot of endurance. One cyclist shares how he continues to push through.
"It's mentally tough. You know, it's exhausting. Our saying is, if it was easy, anybody could do it. So there's a reason why there are only 28 of us riding. So you remember the reason why you're riding all of us that riders, sworn First Responders and Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS. So some of us have been affected directly by the loss of someone in the line of duty in our department. So it kind of drives us that push we need to get up those hills. Our pain is temporary. The family's pain lasts forever. So that's how we do it," stated Jordan Yodis.
The Gulf Coast Brotherhood kicked off their ride in Hoover Alabama and will conclude on Friday in Monroe, Louisiana.