SUMRALL, Miss. (WDAM) - The Gulf Coast Brotherhood Ride is on an almost 500-mile journey to honor fallen first responders.
“It’s emotional," said cyclist and retired Jefferson Parish fireman, Bruce Saltalamachia. "The comradery is incredible, the brotherhood is incredible, it’s like a big family.”
The group is made up of police, fire and EMT cyclists on a mission to honor and remember their brothers and sisters who’ve died in the line of duty.
“We have guys from Kentucky," Saltalamachia said. "This group of 18 cyclists, we’re from 17 different agencies and four states. Our patch has a red rose because we can’t honor all of them, we can only do so much. So, this year we’re honoring 12. The red rose is to represent all those we can’t honor.”
For its 2020 ride, the group started in Sumrall where they honored Deputy Chief Clinton Alvin Beasley and Firefighter Lorretta A. ‘Lorrie’ Sykes, of the Sumrall Volunteer Fire Department. They were killed in 2017 in a hit-and-run incident.
“When we do the honor, to see the family members, to see their children, it’s an emotional rollercoaster,” Saltalamachia said.
From there, the cyclists will travel close to 500 miles over the course of five days, ending in Mobile.
“When you get tired, on the back of our jersey is the people we’re riding for," Saltalamachia said. "We look at those names and go, ‘What would they pay to be here?’ So we do it.”
The families of Beasley and Sykes were given a wooden flag plaque with a red line running through it and dog tags with their loved one’s name.
The 2020 ride will honor the following first responder:
- Deputy Chief Clinton Alvin Beasley - Sumrall Volunteer Fire Department, Miss.
- Firefighter Lorretta A. ‘Lorrie’ Sykes - Sumrall Volunteer Fire Department, Miss.
- Patrolman James Kevin White - Brookhaven Police Department, Miss.
- Corporal Walter Zachery Moak - Brookhaven Police Department, Miss.
- Deputy Sheriff Donald William Durr - Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Miss.
- Corporal Shane Michael Totty - Baton Rouge Police Department, La.
- Lieutenant Steven Dewayne Whitstine - East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, La.
- Firefighter Ronda S. Varnado - Washington Parish Fire District #2, La.
- Captain Vincent Nat Liberto, Jr. - Mandeville Police Department, La.
- Police Officer Jason Michael Seals - Slidell Police Department, La.
- Police Officer Robert Stranton McKeithen - Biloxi Police Department, Miss.
- Police Officer Sean Paul Tuder - Mobile Police Department, Ala.