The motorcyclists will be joined by law enforcement representatives, family members and other dignitaries, including America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh, who will serve as Grand Marshall. America’s Most Wanted crews will be on site at the event and will profile the fallen officers in an upcoming edition of their nationally televised show. All proceeds from the ride will be donated to the True American Hero Fund in memory of the 16 Florida law enforcement officers killed last year who include:
Sgt. Nicholas G. Sottile, Florida Highway Patrol
Deputy Sheriff Harold Michael "Mike" Altman, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office
Lt. Corey Dahlem, Gainesville Police Department
Lt. Delmar Teagan, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Sgt. Karl Strohsal, Longwood Police Department
Sgt. Christopher Reyka, Broward County Sheriff’s Office
Sgt. Ron Harrison, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
Reserve Dep. Joe Bill Galloway, Holmes County Sheriff’s Office
Officer Jose Somohano, Miami-Dade Police Department
Officer Alfred L. Gordon, Orlando Police Department
Officer Scott Eric Bell, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office
Officer Michelle A. Lawless, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Deputy Sheriff Paul Rein, Broward County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Sheriff Donta J. Manuel, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Sheriff Jonathan D. Wallace, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Sheriff, Robin Tanner, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
In addition to the benefit ride, Sprint will host a dinner on Friday, February 22 to honor the families of the 16 fallen officers and to pay tribute to all law enforcement officers.
"These officers dedicated their lives to the safety of our communities," said Sheriff William "Bill" Balkwill, Sarasota County. "They were all True American Heroes and we believe the benefit ride, ceremonies and entertainment are a wonderful way to pay tribute to the sacrifice they made while also honoring their families who loved and supported them. Our department is pleased with and inspired by the support we have received from Sprint Nextel and the community for this benefit."
Rain or shine, the event will begin at 6 a.m. at Sarasota County Technical Institute, where the ride will start and finish. Participants can pre-register online at www.Sprintride.com. There will be a ceremony honoring the 16 fallen officers and all first responders at 8 a.m.
The 45-mile ride begins at 9 a.m. and participants will be escorted by motorcycle units from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, City of Gainesville Police and the Florida Highway Patrol. The riders will travel through beautiful Sarasota County, including the pristine Myakka River State Park before heading back to the Sarasota County Technical Institute.
Child Safety Event among post-ride activities
Sprint is partnering with DNA LifePrint to offer families who attend the True American Hero benefit ride event the opportunity to get biometric fingerprints of their children and a DNA identification kit. This program provides parents with the vital tools recommended by the FBI and the Department Of Justice.
At the event, students and parents will receive a free FBI Certified Biometric 10 Digit Fingerprint Profile; a high resolution full color digital photograph; a Child Safety Journal which will include important vitals about the registered child; and a Home DNA Identification Kit.
"Parents will be able to take this information home so that they have the important materials on hand to give to a law enforcement agency if they ever need to report their child missing," said Joel Garner, regional vice president for Sprint. "Sprint is proud to be able to offer this free service to residents of Sarasota and surrounding communities who will be at the True American Hero event supporting the brave men and women dedicated to keeping our communities safe."
Sprint will also have helpful materials from its 4NetSafety program which is designed to help keep kids safer online. The program is in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the NEA Health Information Network and others and is supported in part by the Sprint Project Connect phone recycling program.
In addition, there will be demonstrations of Sprint Family Locator where families can learn about the GPS technology that allows parents to locate their child’s phone and display the location on an interactive map. It is an inexpensive way for families to stay in constant touch.
Advance registration, which ends at 5 p.m. the day before the ride (Friday, Feb. 22), is $25 for a solo rider or $35 with a passenger. The fee goes up by $5 for both categories of registration the day of the event. The price includes lunch, the True American Hero Ride Commemorative T-Shirt and a giveaway packet. Lunch begins at noon and continues until 2 p.m. Entertainment will continue until 4 p.m. Those who don’t ride can buy lunch for $10. Registration information is available at www.Sprintride.com.
In addition to hosting the event and the lunch, Sprint will provide the communication tools for the ride’s road captains as well as for law enforcement officials and key support vehicles. They will also use the company’s Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology to keep track of the ride in progress. Sprint will showcase additional data services including GPS tracking, navigational and other mobility solutions during the post-event activities.
About Sprint Nextel
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including two robust wireless networks serving approximately 54 million customers at the end of 2007; industry-leading mobile data services; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. For more information, visit www.sprint.com.
SOURCE: Sprint Nextel
Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office
Lt. Chuck Lesaltato, 941-861-4005
Nanci Schwartz, 305-788-8256