By Frank Maceachern of the Greenwich Times
The families of police officers who died in the line of duty will be getting a financial boost, thanks in part to a pair of Greenwich police officers.
Officers Robert Ferretti, 50, and Brian Tornga, 35, recently participated in the 10th annual Tour de Force 9/11 Memorial Bike Ride from New York City to Washington. It was the seventh time for Ferretti and the first for Tornga, who said he will be back for more.
“This is my first year; it won’t be my last. You can’t replicate that feeling when we came into D.C.,” Tornga said of the people who greeted them as they finished their ride.
The ride is done in remembrance of the officers who died in the Sept. 11 attacks and raises money for the families of slain police officers.
Ferretti and Tornga raised about $5,000.
Ferretti said he draws inspiration from first responders who died in the attacks to keep him going during the 100-miles-per-day rides.
“You get tired and you are doing 100 miles in a day and you think about quitting once in a while,” Ferretti said. “You get that flash thought, `I can throw the bike in the truck and ride.’ But you get the inspiration of the thought of those rescue workers going up those stairs with all that equipment.”
“There’s no quit,” Tornga interjected.
“There’s no quitting,” Ferretti agreed. “Riding a bicycle is nothing compared to what they did.”
This year the ride began Sept. 8 and ended Sept. 11.
“It really has become a reunion for me,” Ferretti said. “I see some of the same faces every year and we catch up. Even though it’s for a short period of time, you look forward to seeing those people.”
Ferretti, a Port Chester, N.Y., resident, served the Port Chester Police Department for 22 years before joining the Greenwich Police Department five years ago.
Tornga, 35, a native of Lincoln, Neb., has been with Greenwich police for five years.
Ferretti has long been a biker, but it has been years since Tornga mounted a bicycle. He started training a few months before the event, and participated along with Ferretti in August in the Boston to New York Tri-State Trek, a fundraiser for ALS research.
Ferretti used a bike from Specialized, a company that produces carbon fiber bicycles. He won the bike in a raffle three years ago for being one of the top fundraisers in the Tour de Force.
Tornga couldn’t quite remember the make of his own bicycle.
“Two wheels,” he joked.
The ride began in 2002 with nine riders and has grown to more than 250, Ferretti said.
The organization sends a representative to give eligible families $5,000, Ferretti said.
“It’s not much, the $5,000, but maybe it will pay the mortgage for another month, or groceries or Christmas present money. It’s just another way of letting these families know we are family.”