Local Floral Park residents remember heroes, volunteers and victims
For the 11th consecutive year, motorcyclists across the country revved their engines and took off for the annual America’s 9/11 Ride. A local group from Floral Park began its long trek at 5:45 a.m. on Aug. 16.
The purpose of America’s 9/11 ride is to remember the heroes, volunteers and victims who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The annual ride takes place in August and the caravan visits each site, paying homage to the victims forever associated with them.
The origin of the now annual ride is not what one might expect.
“In 2000 my wife and I were riding across Tennessee and Alabama along the Cherokee Death Trail,” said Ted Sjurseth, president and founder of the America’s 9/11 Foundation. “In 2001 while we were there, we heard about September 11th and we [organized] a bunch of bikers from the New York City area to start it.”
Groups are leaving from many different places across the country including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and New York to take part in the event. For the crew leaving from Floral Park, there is a special reason for riding in the event this year.
On volunteer Frank Bania’s 2012 sponsorship page, he explains the reason for the local group’s participation this year.
Bania has been participating in the event for quite some time. This year, however, he is part of a fundraising team along with members of the Floral Park Fire Department riding in honor and memory of Keith Fairben, a former volunteer firefighter who gave his life as a responder on 9/11.
“This year I am looking forward to this event as it remembers all the heroes and victims from the terrible attacks on this great country,” wrote Bania.
Bania and the Floral Park Fire Dept. are looking to raise $5,000 for this year’s event. The last audit showed that more then 90 percent of funds received are utilized supporting first responders, their departments and families.
Funds from this event go to college scholarship programs for graduating seniors of first responders and also provide equipment to first responder departments and funds national volunteer emergency teams.
The 9/11 ride is a remembrance ride, not a race and there are basic rules of the road that all participants must follow. Some of the most important ones include helmets being required for the entire ride, no flags larger then 2×3, and safety being the foundation’s number one concern.
Riders will be riding in one large, long group, several miles long. The foundation expects 15-20 miles of bikes so safety is crucial and police escorts will be provided.
This remembrance ride is known as the largest police-escorted motorcycle ride and although all riders take off from different starting points, all follow the same basic path in remembering that one fateful day in September, from the World Trade Center, to Shanksville, P.A. and then on to the World Trade Center.
“People do this ride in remembrance for families and survivors,” said Sjurseth. “They do it to remember their loved ones. Hours and hours go into planning it. There are new twists and turns very year. It couldn’t be done without the volunteers.”