10 Oct History of Texas Wheels of Justice by Eric Gray
TX Wheels of Justice
In 2003 while attending a class at the DPS Academy in Austin I picked up a copy of a magazine called American Police Beat. I noticed and article about a group of Police Officers that were riding their bicycles from New Jersey to Washington DC to raise awareness about Officers being killed in the line of duty and also to raise money to for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Fund (NLEOMF.)
The ride was called the Police Unity Tour and it was a 300 mile 4 day ride. The article had piqued my interest mainly because I had just started riding a bicycle as a hobby and a way to stay in shape. The article was asking for more Officer’s to sign up and participate.
A couple of weeks later I was back in my duty station in Odessa. I could not get the article out of my mind. I decided to bring this up to the other Troopers in my area and see what they thought. After some discussion we decided to do it. After several months of fundraising that included BBQ’s, raffles , silent auctions, begging and just about anything else we could think of myself and 4 other Troopers and one Trooper’s wife headed to New Jersey.
We arrived on May the 8th and as you can imagine were pretty excited to be here. We had just completed a very long drive and were about to start an event that we had been putting together for several months. I guess you could say we were pretty proud of ourselves.
I remember that I was trying to carry too much luggage up to the room and was having a hard time trying to get my key in the door without dropping stuff. As luck would have it my phone started to ring. I gave up and just set everything down and answered the phone. I was then informed by my Sergeant that Kurt Knapp, a friend, classmate and fellow Trooper had been killed in a car crash a few hours earlier.
Nothing like the harsh reality of life taking the pride right out of you.
All of us completed the ride the 300 mile ride that week and rode into the Memorial in Washington DC with heavy hearts. One of the most important benefits that the Police Unity Tour provides to participating Officers is the chance to heal. The ability to be able to do something for your fallen comrades is huge help in dealing with the emotions and grief that follow these types of incidents.
That year we also found out that we were the first Texans to ever participate in this event even though it was in its seventh year. I knew after that year the Police Unity Tour should never take place again without Texas Police Officer’s participating.
TX Wheels of Justice, a 501(c) 3 organization, was established that year and has been going strong ever since. Now it its 12th year it has always had multiple members participating in the Police Unity Tour. It has donated over $66,000.00 to the Police Unity Tour during that time but more important is the awareness it has brought about officers being killed in the line of duty and the healing it has provided for the participating officers.
The Heroes Ride was started in 2007 as the only fundraiser for the Organization. We have been blessed to grow every year and we ask that you please help us continue to grow and have Texas Peace Officers have a bigger presence in the Unity Ride each year..