This marks the 32nd year that the HPD Bicycle Relay Team has hosted an event to support LLS. The group’s total contribution to the cause currently exceeds $5.4 million.
Forty officers left from downtown Houston, Texas on Tuesday with the goal of reaching Portland, Maine by June 25. Their trek took them through Walker County on Thursday afternoon.
One of the cyclists, Randy Upton, was greeted at the brief stopover in Oakman by local family members. Upton has been a member of the Houston Police Department for 22 years and has participated in 13 fundraising relays.
Upton and others on this year’s team were friends with Sgt. Jason Leal, a 21-year veteran of HPD who lost his battle to lymphoblastic lymphoma in January 2012.
“Each rider rides in honor of someone who is either currently battling leukemia or other cancers, has battled one themselves or in memory of someone who has lost their life to leukemia,” Upton said.
Officers are required to contribute at least $5,000 in order to participate in the relay.
This year’s ride is expected to raise between $220,000 and $250,000 for LLS. Upton and his 15-year-old son, Tyler, collected a combined $14,000 toward that total.
Several vans accompany the cyclists during each day’s ride to provide rest periods, water, snacks and First Aid if necessary. Riders switch off over the course of the week to prevent exhaustion.
Upton’s group rode from Fayette to Guntersville on Thursday. The next team rode through the night and arrived in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Friday morning.
Pictures and information about the rest of the relay are available at the HPD Bike Relay Team page on Facebook.