(La Porte, County, IN) - A memorial bike ride for fallen law enforcement officers passed through La Porte County Friday. It’s a yearly state-wide event that raises awareness and money in memory of officers killed in the line of duty.
Aarie Szuba was one of the riders. For her, the event was personal. Her husband is a St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Deputy. Her father-in-law, James Szuba, was killed in the line of duty eleven years ago. "I never got the opportunity to meet my father-in-law," she said during a break in the riding, "so I am riding for the survivors in my family-- that includes my husband, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and my kids, who never got to meet their grandfather." Szuba, who is a veterinarian in Rolling Prairie, joined the ride in Elkhart on Thursday.
Over a dozen riders representing various police forces and police families stopped in New Carlisle Friday morning to pay their respects at the grave of Neil Thompson, a La Porte County Sheriff’s Deputy who was killed while on patrol in 1980. Some of the money raised from the ride benefits a local scholarship named in Thompson’s honor. Retired La Porte County officer Mike Kellems, a Sheriff's cadet when Thompson was killed, led a brief ceremony.
The cyclists then rode through La Porte County en route to Merrillville. Heavy rains Friday slowed their progress but did not dampen their spirits. The group made stops at several cemeteries to honor fallen officers.
The riders, who took off from Indianapolis on Monday, encircle the state and return to the Circle City next Saturday.