Eagle County Ride in Remembrance a chance to honor fallen first responders | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Ride in Remembrance a chance to honor fallen first responders

The May 10 event honors those who have given their lives in service to their community

Red Sandstone Elementary students often crowd Vail's pedestrian overpass to wave to Eagle County emergency workers during the annual Ride in Remembrance. This year's ride is May 10.

Five facts:

What: The annual Eagle County “Ride in Rembrance.”

When: May 10. Participants gather at Freedom Park in Edwards starting at 9:30 a.m. The ride begins at 10:15 a.m.

Who can participate? Anyone, but most participants have motorcycles or classic cars.

Route: Freedom Park in Edwards to Donovan Pavilion in Vail. A ceremony in Vail is followed by a community barbecue.

For more information: Call Jennifer Kirkland, 970-477-3413.

EAGLE COUNTY — The list of first responders who have died in the line of duty has grown this year.

Eric Hill, a longtime volunteer with the Gypsum Fire Department, died March 16 while working for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Hill and six other first responders who have died in the line of duty will be honored at the annual Eagle County Ride in Remembrance, set for May 10. The ride gathers first responders, local motorcyclists and classic car owners for a procession between Freedom Park in Edwards and Donovan Pavilion in Vail.

Jennifer Kirkland of the Vail Public Safety Communications Center said there was a bit of debate whether to include Hill, since some don’t consider CDOT employees as first responders.

But, Kirkland said, CDOT crews are at many of the same scenes as responders from police, fire and ambulance agencies. That, and the fact Hill spent so many years as a firefighter, meant he’s included on this year’s list.

A celebration of life

While there’s a memorial element to the ride, Kirkland said the annual event is also a celebration of the lives of the fallen and the efforts of those still on duty.

The annual ride from Edwards to Vail usually draws a good bit of attention — it’s hard to miss a long procession of emergency vehicles, motorcycles and classic cars. Kids at local schools often come outside to wave as the vehicles pass by. Kids from Red Sandstone Elementary School in Vail have been known to pack the pedestrian overpass over Interstate 70 to cheer and wave flags.

With all that attention, and the celebration that follows, being on the ride is often humbling for civilian participants.

Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek said it’s humbling for first responders, too.

“We’re all tied together,” van Beek said. “There’s a single focus, taking care of the community… It’s humbling to remember (the fallen).”

Vail Fire Chief Mark Novak said honoring the fallen is also an opportunity for those on duty to remember the possible risks first responders face every day.

While first responders can get caught up in day-to-day work, “It’s good to slow down and pay our respects,” Novak said. “It’s a chance to think about what we’re doing.”

Avon Police Chief Greg Daly said the annual ride is a “great community event … There are lots of citizens who want to be involved.”

Those who stand on the roadsides saluting, waving, or with their hands on their hearts is encouraging to see, he said.

“It’s a great message to our officers, firefighters and EMS personnel,” Daly said.

And, Daly said, it’s a reminder of a quote attributed to Robert Peel, who created the London Metropolitan Police Force in the 1830s: “We are the public, and the public is us.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.

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