Seventh and eighth graders from Eisenhower Middle School participated in its third annual EMS Student Unity Tour last month under clear blue sunny skies and warm weather at Horseshoe Lake Park.
More than 100 middle schoolers and some staff rode their bikes and cheered on their classmates to raise money for the National Police Unity Tour.
Eighth graders led off the event behind Roxbury Police Officer Silvio Valdes, who was tasked in leading the way. Chief Marc Palanchi shared with the students that Valdes would be retiring in February and this might be his last tour. Student riders and staff rode two laps, 3.5 miles, around Horseshoe Lake Park to honor police officers that had fallen in the line of duty. EMS students were fortunate enough to ride alongside many of the local police officers that participated in the National Unity Tour a few weeks ago to Washington, D.C.
This event started two years ago at the school through the Character Education Committee and has continued to grow with participation and enthusiasm.
The Unity Tour kick off started Monday night at EMS with a Meet and Greet. Students and their families had a chance to meet with some of Roxbury’s law enforcement officers over sandwiches and desserts donated by local vendors. As part of this meet and greet, students were able to drop off their bicycles in anticipation of the big event, eliminating the chaos Wednesday morning.
Students, staff and officers gathered at Horseshoe Lake for a brief opening ceremony led by Heather Roddy, EMS physical education teacher and event coordinator.
“When you’re organizing this, you have one little goal in your mind that when we send our police officers off to the unity tour, we’re standing there proud as a school that we had something to do with that,” said Roddy.
Roddy’s goal this year was to break $10,000 cumulatively from the last three years.
“This year guys raised $4,647, but as usual, guess what you did,” she said. “You surpassed the $10,000 mark and you guys hit $15,133!”
Roddy recognized the class and the teacher that led in donations, saying, “There has been one teacher leading in the role of donations and stepping out into the community with their students and raising the money for our officers to travel to D.C. and that is Ms. Kim Farina’s class. She won it again!”
Part of Wednesday’s event by Eisenhower Middle School is to honor the Roxbury Police Department for its community outreach and for everything it does for Roxbury.
According to the Police Unity Tour CEO and Founder Patrick Montuore, “Every year hundreds of law enforcement officers die in the line of duty. Nothing can ever replace them to their family and friends. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. allows for their memories to live on and honors these men and women forever.”