It’s called the 343, a group of three men, two on bicycles, and one in a car. They are making their way from Santa Clara, Calif., to ground zero in New York City.
The reason for the trip, it’s in honor of the 343 firefighters that lost their lives on September 11. As they moved through Idaho Falls on Friday, it was day 12 out of 39, and they are still going strong.
The number 343 isn’t just a number, it’s the number of firefighters that died when the Twin Towers fell Sept. 11, 2001.
Now Darrell Sales and David Lombardo are making their way by bike from the California coast to ground zero.
“Let New York know the whole country cares about what happened and we are one big brother and sisterhood,” said Sales of the Santa Clara City Fire Department.
“They are as energized today as the first time we left the fire station in Santa Clara,” said Fred Belligan, the support driver.
“It definitely is energizing,” said Sales.
Even the small acts of kindness can mean a lot, like a woman with her grandkids buying them gas.
“I even said to her. “We probably don’t need a whole lot,’ but she said ‘I would love to,’ and the grandkids were as excited as can be,” said Belligan.
So how do they get through the cramps and pains of the long journey?
“I just think about 343, and I think about them going up those towers, and that they were probably in a lot of pain and really fatigued. They kept going up even though they didn’t know if they were coming down, they kept going up. It keeps me going,” said Lombardo of the Santa Clara City Fire Department.
“Twenty-nine more days of riding. I think we will make it,” said Sales. “You think we will make it?” said Lombardo. “I think we will make it,” said Sales. “One pedal at a time,” said Lombardo. “And all the support from the community has been really good,” said Sales.
“I think the 343 would be honored and want us to enjoying this too,” said Lombardo.
The three men stay at fire departments in each city they stop in. One town even had a parade waiting for them.
“Enjoy your ride. Ride safe, take care,” said Sales and Lombardo to another biker who rode by.
Sales and Lombardo said when they started this journey it was about making connections and building relationships. Now they are trying to connect the community from the West Coast to the East Coast.
If you want to track their progress, visit their website http://www.bay2brooklyn2011.org/index.html