Sandy Hook resident and world class cyclist Monte Frank will be coordinating a second ride from Sandy Hook to Washington featuring Team 26 — a group of similarly motivated riders looking to honor Newtown’s and all victims of gun violence, support stronger gun violence prevention laws and to spread a message of peace, hope and love.
According to Mr Frank, also a local attorney, the ride will depart Newtown on March 8. The public is invited to help send off the cyclists at an 8 am ceremony at Edmond Town Hall on Main Street.
Once the group departs Newtown, they will make two more ceremonial departure stops in Connecticut, coordinate appearances at several other rallies along their planned route, and arrive at the steps of the US Capital on March 11.
“The majority of this year’s team were on the ride last year,” Mr Frank told The Newtown Bee. “Along the way we’ll have eight rallies, as well as two other stops, at the Washington Cathedral and a gathering in College Park, Md., where we’ll rendezvous with other riders who will accompany us on to the capital.”
This year, Team 26 consists of professional and top amateur and master cyclists and crew from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia and Arizona.
The team includes a former Junior World Championships National Team member, US National Team member, Canadian National Team member, Maccabiah World Games Silver Medalist, and State and Regional Champions.
Four Newtowners round out the team — Mr Frank, Bill Muzzio, Chris Peck, and Armand Daccache. Two of those riders have children who attend or attended Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Another one of this year’s Team 26 complement lost his sister at Virginia Tech. The team also welcomes parents, teachers, high school students, and a Vietnam veteran who met team organizers at this year’s Sandy Hook School Veterans Breakfast.
Mr Frank said he and his Team 26 riders all agree that 12/14 was an unspeakable tragedy which devastated the community and the nation in many ways.
“We pledged not to let the 20 children and six educators die in vain,” he said. “The tragedy also opened our eyes to gun violence that occurs everyday in our urban environments. We ride for all victims of gun violence. We ride to remember them, and to push for stronger gun violence prevention laws to reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues our nation. We ride to build bridges between urban and suburban communities, including Harlem and Baltimore.”
Day one of the ride, March 8, will kick off with a Newtown Send Off Rally. First Selectman Patricia Llodra will host, welcoming Senator Richard Blumenthal, Representative Elizabeth Esty, Newtown Congregational Church Senior Pastor Matthew Crebbin, and Pastor Sam Saylor, a Hartford clergy member who lost his son to gun violence.
Ben's Bells Newtown volunteers will be presenting 26 bells to Team 26 for delivery by riders during their journey to the Capitol. Congressman Jim Himes is also slated to ride with Team 26 from Newtown to a 10:30 am rally in Ridgefield, and on to a 1 pm rally in Greenwich.
The cyclists and their support crew will end their first day at a rally in Harlem at 4 pm.
“That rally will take place at the National Action Network headquarters,” Mr Frank said.
Day two, March 9, will see the riders departing Harlem and heading to Lansdale, Penn., via the George Washington Bridge. There will be another planned rally along the way in Morristown, N.J., as well as a gathering in Doylestown, Penn., late that afternoon before finishing up in Lansdale.
Day three will see the team heading to Baltimore, Md.
“We will escorted by a motorcycle club from Washington, D.C., led by Nardyne Jones, who lost her daughter to gun violence,” Mr Frank said. “When we get to Baltimore, the Baltimore Police Department will escort us to City Hall for a press conference with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake.”
On day four, Team 26 will make its final leg of the ride from Baltimore to Washington, D.C.
“Our first stop will be at the Washington National Cathedral to view an art exhibit titled “Meditation on Mourning” sponsored by the Newtown Foundation,” Mr Frank said. “We will then finish our ride at the Capitol for a press conference with Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, Representative Esty, other members of the Connecticut congressional delegation and other members of Congress, and the Dean of the Washington National Cathedral.
Learn more about Team 26 and this year’s ride by visiting sandyhookrideonwashington.com.
This report was updated on 2/28 to reflect the new ride kickoff location at Edmond Town Hall, March 8 at 8 am.