Team 26 members and supporters gathered on the steps of Edmond Town Hall on Saturday, March 8, before embarking on a 400-mile journey— the 2nd Annual Sandy Hook Ride on Washington (SHROW)— to show how diverse communities across the nation have one common goal: make streets safer and put an end to the gun-violence epidemic.
The four-day “rolling rally” will include events in Ridgefield and Greenwich, Harlem, N.Y., Doylestown, Penn., Baltimore and College Park, Md., and Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., before ending at the steps of the US Capitol Building.
Four Newtown residents — Monte Frank, Bill Muzzio, Chris Peck and Armand Daccache — are members of the team that includes a former Junior World Championships National Team member, US National Team member, Canadian National Team member, Maccabiah World Games Silver Medalist, State and Regional Champions, and Omar Samaha, whose sister Reema was killed in the Virginia Tech shootings.
“We will land at on the west lawn of the National Cathedral at 1 pm on Tuesday,” Mr Frank said during Saturday’s event.
Specifically, the riders support common sense measures to help curb gun violence:
*Requiring all gun buyers pass criminal background checks.
*Instituting a ban of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
*Making gun trafficking a federal crime, including real penalties for “straw buyers”
*Strengthening gun ownership restrictions for people with severe mental illness.
Along the ride, Mr Frank said Team 26 looks forward to seeing mothers, fathers, hunters, veterans, farmers, bankers, “Americans in pick-up trucks and tractor trailers honking at us, encouraging us as we peddle along.”
In all the communities Team 26 rides through, Mr Frank said the message, “that the status quo is not acceptable, that the constant parade of pain must end.”
Prior to Saturday’s event, Mr Frank told The Bee that the tragedy at Sandy Hook on 12/14 spurred the team into action, “but 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, whether it is in a one-stoplight town or our nation’s most populous city.”
The Edmond Town Hall kickoff Saturday morning featured US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), US Representative Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), Reverend Matthew S. Crebbin, pastor of Newtown Congregational Church; Pastor Sam Saylor, a Hartford clergy member who lost his son to gun violence; Team 26 Founder Monte Frank; Sarah Clements, representing Junior Newtown Action Alliance; and Mark Barden, father of 12/14 victim Daniel Barden and a representative of Sandy Hook Promise.
Representatives of Ben’s Bells Newtown also presented the riders with bells for the ride.
US Representative Jim Himes (CT-4) will be riding with the team from Newtown to Greenwich.
From Newtown, the group will head to Ridgefield for a 10:30 am stop at Ridgefield Community Center, 316 Main Street. That event will feature Rep Himes, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, and Mr Frank.
A 12:30 pm stop at Greenwich Town Hall, 101 Field Point Road, will feature Jonathan Perloe, Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence; Rep Himes; Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen; Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei; Greenwich Selectmen Drew Marzullo and David Theis; Mr Frank; Dawn Spearman, founder, You are Not Alone of Bridgeport; Reverend Maxwell Grant, senior minister, Second Congregational Church of Greenwich; Ron Pinciaro, executive director, Connecticut Against Gun Violence; and Rabbi Andrew R. Sklarz, MSW, of Greenwich Reform Synagogue.
When Team 26 arrives in Morristown, Penn., on Sunday, March 9, the riders will be greeted by Maura Sherlach Schwartz, the daughter Mary Sherlach, the Sandy Hook School psychologist killed on 12/14.
Moms Demand Action-New Jersey is played a role in organizing the Morristown rally, according to www.MorristownGreen.com.
“Team 26’s ride is America’s ride,” Mr Frank said. “It’s not about Newtown, but about how America is getting together and demanding that our children be allowed to grow up in pursuit of their dreams. We ride as patriots fighting for a safer America for our children. We ride as Americans who respect the Second Amendment and how it is interpreted by the supreme court. We ride as mothers and fathers who have watched their children lose their innocence, way too early.”
Mr Frank shared why different members of Team 26 are making the journey before saying, “We are bike messengers. Our message to congress is simple: put the politics aside and get it done.”
A further look at Team 26’s journey will be in the March 14 print edition of The Newtown Bee.