Cyclists peddle hundreds of miles to honor fallen first responders

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 8:01 PM EDT
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GRAND STRAND, S.C. (WMBF) - Firefighters and police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting us are being honored by a group of bicyclists dedicated to Carolina’s fallen heroes.

Wednesday, the Carolina Brotherhood rode through Horry County to remember and give thanks to fallen first responders.

It started back in 2012 when firefighter Jeffery Bowen died in a fire in Asheville, North Carolina.

First responders throughout the Carolinas came together on their first bike ride.

Since then, the list of names grew longer, now to 1,369, calling for more rides each year.

Cyclists started out in Mooresville, N.C. on Monday and are set to finish the ride in Hendersonville on Saturday

“It’s nice because it shows that even going on two years later, everyone still thinks about him and honors him every single day,” said Jensen Conklin, the stepsister of Ptl. Jacob Hancher.

Hancher was a Myrtle Beach police officer and volunteer firefighter with Horry County Fire Rescue.

He was shot and killed while responding to a domestic call in October 2020.

After he died, an index card was found in his truck with the bible verse Jeremiah 20:11, “The Lord is with me like a mighty warrior.”

Suzanne Williams, Hancher’s mother, said the verse helped guide her and that her son would be so proud to see the cyclists honor him.

“It brings me a tremendous amount of pride, I know he would be proud to see this,” said Williams. “With him being both a firefighter and police officer, he took pride in both professions. So to see the police and fire come together to do this ride is very meaningful.”

From Conway, Myrtle Beach, and Murrells Inlet, the Carolina Brotherhood made their way through the Grand Strand as they rode to honor the 54 police officers and firefighters who died in the line of duty.

Hancher was one of those first responders.

“Even in uniform he had the biggest smile on his face,” said Conklin. “He still brings a smile to our faces. It’s not so much tears anymore, it’s more remembering him.”

As the group peddles across the Carolinas, families can depend on them to help pick up the pieces.

“When you’re riding, it’s therapy,” said Williams. “It’s a time to talk and to meet other survivors both officers and surviving family members.” We get to share our stories and their stories, and that’s what keeps their memory alive and alive in our hearts.”

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