ABILENE, Texas - Next week police officers from across the country will participate in a 300-mile bike ride in honor of officers killed in the line of duty.
The Police Unity Tour started in 1997 -- and each year officers from Abilene and Taylor County commit to make the trip to support their fallen brothers and sisters in law enforcement.
The Unity Tour starts May 9 and ends May 12. A candlelight vigil for fallen officers will be held at the national memorial May 13.
This year will be Abilene Police Detective Joshua Ward's second year riding from New Jersey to Washington D.C. He said each officer pays $1,750 to take part in the event. That money goes towards the national law enforcement officers memorial fund.
"We have our hero's names on that wall. Officer Rodney Holder and officer Jeff McCoy both died in the line of duty in the last 10 years as well as officers from the Big County that have been added to that wall," said ward.
"It's important to me, Officer Carye Adkins, Deputy Johnny Levario and Deputy Katherine Handy that those names aren't forgotten," he added.
It's a sacrifice we often take for granted. Everyday, officers put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us. The Police Unity Tour bike ride honors those who never made it home.
"This year I'll be riding for Officer Jaime De Luna-Padron from Austin, Texas who was shot and killed in the line of duty April 6, 2012. He left behind two daughters and a wife. I go home every night to my daughter; she gets to see her dad. His daughters no longer get to do that," Ward said.
Detective Ward said the ride isn't easy, but once he arrives at the National Law Enforcement Memorial it's worth every second.
"It's not something you can describe. Best way I can explain it is most officers are characterized as robotic, we're black and white, non-emotional, but the second you ride inside that circle of heroes and you see the names and the families lining the walls, there's not a dry eye on the bike. You're filled with emotion and honor for what we can do," said Ward.
So far this year there have been 38 officers who died on duty, including one from Texas.