WINDERMERE — Despite Windermere Police Foundation being a relative fledgling organization, its leaders’ initiative has led to involvement in multiple events this year, such as the March 22 Officer Robert “Robbie” German Memorial Softball Tournament and Family Fun Day at Braddock Park in Winter Garden.
This weekend, the Windermere Police Foundation is partnering with the Wounded Officers Initiative and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93 to host the inaugural I CAARE for Law Enforcement Ride with other agencies.
“It’s a local event, with officers from Winter Garden, Ocoee, Windermere and Orange County Sheriff’s Office,” Ocoee Police Department Support Services Sgt. Mireya Iannuzzi said.
Organizers have embraced “the more the merrier” mentality for the Oct. 3 ride from Seminole Harley Davidson in Sanford to the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum in Titusville. Classic cars and motorcycles are welcome to partake in the hourlong ride, which is open to all who seek a safe journey to the Space Coast along State Road 46.
“We had almost a thousand riders last year,” Windermere Police Department Chief Dave Ogden said of another charity ride he had helped to organize. “I’d like to see 300 to 500 bikes in this one.”
Ogden said most riders had been waiting to make sure the weather would be good before registering. Advanced online registration at the Wounded Officers Initiative website is preferred, with sign-in opening at 8:30 a.m. before the 10:15 a.m. safety briefing.
Breakfast sandwiches will be for sale at Seminole Harley Davidson, which will have opportunities to win a $100 gift card. Local law officers will escort the ride to the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum, where participants can shop, eat, listen to music, win raffles and freely visit the museum.
I CAARE FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT RIDE
WHEN: Oct. 3 (rain date Oct. 10). Sign-in will be from 8:30 to 10 a.m.; the ride begins at 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Seminole Harley-Davidson (Sanford) to American Police Hall of Fame (Titusville)
COST: $40 per car; $25 per motorcycle rider; $10 per motorcycle passenger
WHAT IS CAARE?
CAARE stands for Counseling, Advocacy, Awareness, Recognition and Education.
On-demand counseling in collaboration with mental health experts is one free service the Wounded Officers Initiative will provide to all wounded, active or retired officers.
- Agencies, politicians and a legal team will help the Wounded Officers Initiative form a national bill outlining a medical retirement plan with medical coverage and monetary compensation for gravely hurt officers who must retire from injury. Program leaders hope to develop mortgage and credit forgiveness programs for such officers, too.
- Local, county, state and federal agencies will collaborate on a website with updates on officers injured on duty, with stats to educate the public and help agencies and manufacturers to train, manage and equip officers better.
- The Wounded Officers Initiative motto is “So Their Sacrifice Is Never Forgotten,” which goes with its “Living Heroes Policy.” This policy’s basic tenets are honoring gravely injured officers with retirement ceremonies and memorializing fallen officers with public shrines. Wounded Officers Initiative officials hope to raise money with the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund to build a statue at the memorial in Washington, D.C., honoring all past and future seriously injured officers.
- This initiative has a goal of forming partnerships to allow retired injured officers to earn a degree or specialized training for a new career. If the injury prevents officers from benefiting from this, their spouses instead may partake if unemployed. Officials will work with employment agencies and employers to help wounded officers find new jobs.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].