By Paul Leighton
---- — DANVERS – Like so many people when they first heard the news of the Boston Marathon bombings, Danvers police officer Kevin Wood’s thoughts immediately turned to someone he knew.
His 83-year-old father, Gene, was at the finish line that day, as he had been for the last 20 years, as a volunteer handing out medals to runners.
Thankfully, Gene Wood was not physically hurt. But just a few days later, Kevin Wood heard the news that MIT police officer Sean Collier had been shot and killed by the alleged bombers.
Once again, the tragedy had hit home. Collier had graduated from Salem State, and Wood and his fellow officers had known him from the time Collier worked as security officer at Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers.
“We all get to know those guys over there and we all knew Sean,” Wood said. “He was a good kid.”
Stirred by the memory of Collier, Wood and some of his fellow officers have decided to participate in “Sean’s Ride,” the third leg of a three-day bike ride called the Tour de Force.
Now in its 12th year, the Tour de Force began as a way to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and to raise money for families of police officers killed in the line of duty each year.
This year the ride will start at Ground Zero in New York City and will end on Sept. 11 at the Boston Marathon finish line, in honor of the victims of the Boston bombings.
“When we heard they had named the third leg of the ride ‘Sean’s Ride’ in honor of Sean Collier, we wanted to do something for him,” Wood said.
About a dozen members of the Danvers police and fire departments as well as the Beverly Police Department plan to take part in “Sean’s Ride,” a one-day, 65-mile leg from Providence, R.I., to Boston.
Wood, 43, grew up in Beverly Farms and spent nine years as a Beverly police officer before moving over to the Danvers department 10 years ago.
The riders have scheduled a fundraiser for July 27 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Hastings House in Beverly Farms. The event will include music, food, raffles and a silent auction.
Proceeds will go toward sponsoring the riders, who are required to raise a minimum of $250 each for the Tour de Force fund.
For local officers who knew Collier, his death has reinforced the poignancy of the cause of supporting the families of fallen police officers.
“We all know in the back of our minds that there’s a danger that in our line of work sometimes guys go to work and just don’t come home,” Wood said. “We want to celebrate Sean’s life and take care of others who have lost someone in this fashion.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
What: “Sean’s Ride” fundraiser
When: Saturday, July 27, 7 to 11 p.m.
Where: Hastings House, 14 Oak St., Beverly Farms