Thousands ride in The Ben to the Shore Bike Tour to benefit children of fallen first responders

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Thousands of cyclists set out Sunday morning to raise money for the Behind the Badge Children's Foundation in the 32nd Annual The Ben to the Shore Bike Tour.

Beginning at 7 a.m., approximately 2500 riders set out from the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge to peddle the 65-mile ride to Atlantic City.

Ofc. Jessie Hartnett exemplifies what the race is all about.

Hartnett's arm was shattered by gunfire as he used it to shield his head on the night of January 7, 2016.

"I had 11 surgeries so far. So it's been pretty extensive as far as that's concerned," he said.

The money raised Sunday will go directly to improving the lives of families of first responders who have fallen or been severely injured in their line of duty.

"Just to show not only Police but everyone that after a traumatic injury to your body life doesn't have to end," said Hartnett of his ride.

For Maureen Faulkner, fighting and raising funds for those like Hartnett is her mission.

Her husband, Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, was shot and killed in the line of duty nearly 40 years ago.

"It's a great cause for the city to help children in need for the city," she said. "I think people need to realize police officers are good people and are here to protect our city."

Action News also spoke to Kimmie Pawlowski and her son Johnny, named after his late father John. Officer Pawlowski was killed in the line of duty in 2009.

This year for the first time Johnny is riding with his mom in the event.

"Every year it seems to grow and it's just amazing," said Kimmie Pawlowski. "It's a fun event. Things are always sad, but this is uplifting that we look forward to this every year to keep John's memory alive."

Together, along with the thousands of riders, they honor those who've given it all.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.