Toronto police rev engines for 911 ride

Toronto police hope to improve community relations with Canada’s first 911 ride on Sept. 29 – a two-day motorcycle trip through southern Ontario — where over 250 riders will raise money for scholarships and public defibrillators.

“Most of the public see somebody behind the window of a car driving by, they don’t realize we’re people too,” Sgt. James Adamson said. “That’s all they know about the police.”

Adamson founded Canada’s 911 Ride along with Dan Lawrence, owner of a Markham motorcycle dealership, and four other police officers. After raising money for the 9/11 fundraising efforts in the Unites States, the group decided they could do the same north of the border, and use the money toward scholarships for the children of fallen emergency workers, as well as any victims of violent crimes. Any extra money raised will help buy public access defibrillators, devices used to revive heart attack victims.

While the fundraising is important, the Toronto police are also determined to gain a better relationship with the public.

“Our main mission is to give back to the community,” Adamson said.

Even Lawrence, who isn’t involved with the Toronto police, stressed how crucial it is for the community to feel comfortable with local police officers.

“I think we’ve been needing something like this for a long time and we want to let the public know the police are there to help them and serve them, that they’re not to be feared or wondered about,” Lawrence said.

Organizers are getting a head start to finding scholarship candidates. They plan to help Katie Manchester, 7, whose parents were killed by a speeding car while they were driving home from their 17th wedding anniversary.

“The girl was left without any parents,” Adamson said. “What we’d like to be able to do is create a trust fund for her so when it’s time we’ll be able to assist her with her education.”

While Lawrence is certain they will raise enough money, he said if they do have more candidates than anticipated, students will apply for the scholarship with an essay that will be reviewed by Canada’s 911 Ride committee.

“Our goal is to have every child get something,” Lawrence said.

Over 250 police officers, firefighters and community members will kick off the ride in Kingston with Don Cherry of Hockey Night in Canada. They will travel through Ottawa and Renfrew before resting for the night in Huntsville’s Deerhurst Resort. Saturday morning they will hit Orillia and Markham and eventually wrap up their ride in Toronto, where the bikers will be celebrated at Woodbine Racetrack.

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