GRPD officer returns from 300-mile unity ride

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Police officer Chad VanDam has returned home after completing a 300-mile bicycle ride to honor fallen officers.

VanDam was one of nearly 2,600 officers who completed the four-day ride from New Jersey to Washington, D.C.

“Someone has to ride for all these officers” VanDam said, “and whether it’s me or the guy I’m riding next to, we all know the reason why we’re there, and it gets us through the physical pains we feel every day.”

The annual event started in 1997 with just 18 officers participating. This year, the ride had 2,600 participants and raised over $2.5 million for the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Foundation.

VanDam says that even though getting through the trip is difficult, it’s important to see it through.

“The training is kind of hard,” he said, “but once you get out there, no matter what the weather — we’ve had years of sleet, hail, a lot of years of rain, warm temperatures — you’ve just got to kind of dig deep and realize why you’re riding: to honor that person that died in the line of duty. And to me, it’s a no-brainer. It carries you through.”

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