Bicyclists from Missouri and Illinois are joining together to ride across the state of Iowa to raise money for BackStoppers.
The Backstoppers Inc. helps families of police officers, firefighters and first responders who die in the line of duty in the St. Louis region including the metro-east.
Brian Ewing, special agent with the Illinois State Police, along with two former Missouri law enforcement members, Bill Etheridge and Richard Banahan, organized the first ever bike ride to raise money.
Team BackStoppers is going to ride 406 miles, which is the entire state of Iowa, starting Sunday morning and finishing on July 27.
"We're riding from the west to the east to cover the entire state of Iowa," Ewing said. "It's the first ever association with cyclers and BackStoppers. They have all sorts of other fundraising activities like trivia night. We're trying to reach cyclists."
"Our goal is to raise awareness of BackStoppers and to raise money for the organization, which supports families on both sides of the river," Ewing said.
"We're going to be ambassadors on bikes. Donors can give whatever they want and the funds will go towards the BackStoppers education fund," he said.
Donors can go on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teambackstoppers (note Team BackStoppers) or go to BackStoppers.org and click on the donation link to make a donation, Ewing said.
To prepare for this journey, Ewing said the 18 bikers in Illinois have been riding the Madison and St. Clair county bike trails and logging their miles.
They will join 31 bikers from the St. Louis area. The riders all are at different skill levels.
"We're riding not racing and we have plenty of support. That's the benefit of this team. We are not elite bikers. We have the support of BackStoppers and their outreach team," Ewing said.
The team will leave St. Louis County Saturday morning and begin cycling at 7:30 a.m. Sunday in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Former St. Louis County Police Officer Billy Carter, is helping to get the bikers and their equipment to Iowa via a chartered bus from Padre's Cycle Inn.
The team is participating in the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, also known as RAGBRAI.
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.