Falls officer rides for those who have died
Police Unity Tour raises funds to honor fallen officers nationally
Menomonee Falls - When Menomonee Falls Police Officer Jackie Infalt does not think she can pedal any longer, she draws strength from those who have fallen and continues to push forward.
Infalt is training for the Police Unity Tour, 300 mile bike ride that takes place over four days during National Police Week to honor the memory of law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty. Infalt is riding to remember one of Menomonee Falls own officers - John S. Taylor Jr. - who was killed on duty in 1977. She is also riding to honor Milwaukee County Deputy Sergio Aleman and Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena, who were killed in 2012.
"I am doing this so they are never forgotten," she said.
Infalt is part of a group of 22 from Southeastern Wisconsin who will bike with officers around the country from East Hanover, NJ to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C.
To participate in the tour, she must raise $1,750. The funds raised will go toward supporting the event, as well as to the National Law Enforcement Fund and the National Police Museum on behalf of the Wisconsin Chapter of the Police Unity Tour. A donation bucket will be set up at the Menomonee Falls Police Department to help Infalt meet her fundraising goal. Checks made out to the Police Unity Tour can also be sent to the Police Department, W156N8480 Pilgrim Road, Menomonee Falls, WI, 53051.
It is Infalt's hope that residents in Menomonee Falls realize they have lost an officer and continue to honor his memory. There is a park on Appleton Avenue named in memory of Taylor, which she said many local residents do not know about.
Infalt is training with Jennifer Gerke, who is an officer for the Jackson Police Department. Gerke has participated in the ride before. She said though raising money is a part of the Police Unity Tour, more importantly are the connections they make with fallen officers' families.
In the past, she has ridden to honor Germantown Police Officer Robert Backes, who was killed in 1981. With the help of Facebook, the Unity Tour helped Gerke connect with Backes' family, who never knew about the memorial organization. Since that connection was made, Backes' family has been able to be a part of the event.
"It gives you the motivation to keep going," Gerke said.
Last year, the Police Unity Tour raised more than $1.5 million nationally. Though it is not a locally run non profit organization, Gerke said it the benefits trickle down to all police departments.
"It's not a local charity, but it benefits us all and the money donated goes to the Memorial Fund. (The Memorial) has all the names of the fallen officers on it and the Police Museum will document all the fallen officers and pay attention to safety," she said. "They are studying how many officers are killed each year and how can we prevent that and all that information is passed down to all of us. It's based in New Jersey, but it's a trickle effect and it effects all of us."
To donate to the cause or for information, contact Infalt at (262) 532-8700 or email JInfalt@menomonee-falls.org.
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