On Wednesday, the Caloosa Riders Cycling Club held a “Twenty Years of Silence Ride” in memory of those killed or injured in accidents while cycling.
WINK News reported a lot of bike and vehicle accidents this year alone, and there was a lot of emotion during the trip Wednesday night.
Many of the people who came out were on the verge of tears when talking about loved ones who were honored by their trip.
Debra Purcaro is one of those who is honored. She was a cyclist who died in a collision during a trip to Alva last year.
For the dozens who attended the event, it is about keeping their memories alive and coming together to heal.
This year’s trip of silence is the first for Debra Miller, who lost her fiancé Frederick Ryan in a crash last year.
“It’s hard, but … it’s important,” Miller said.
Ryan’s special bike now belongs to Debra’s girlfriend, April Snyder, who rides in his honor.
“I’m going to ride it in memory of him tonight. He is an angel. Every time I get on this bike, I look up at the sky and say, “Thank you, Freddie, and take care of all of us cyclists,” Snyder said.
Cyprus, along with many others, is also traveling to honor the memory of Debra Purcaro.
“It’s hard. I can cry when I go to her memorial, when I clean it. It’s hard to lose someone who was a dear friend, “said Katie Carbon of Caloosa Riders and SWFL Critical Mass.
Many of the riders at Wednesday’s event were with Debra Purcaro when the fatal crash happened last year.
“For me, it’s some kind of therapy. Pink has always been the color of Debra, and it’s the hottest pink I’ve been able to find, ”said Mike Wales of Caloosa Riders.
Those who survived the blows while riding called the group “lucky.”
“You know you can’t heal yourself. You’re with others. You stand for each other. You’re supported by people who are not only your friends on horseback riding or your riding tribe, but they’re actually becoming your family for horseback riding, ”said Julie Simpson of Caloosa Riders.
Survivors hope to become a catalyst for change.
“It was still an opportunity to do something to improve the community, to form communities that were safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists,” said Diana Giralda, president of Streets Alive Southwest Florida.
County Commissioner Lee Cecil Pendergrass was also present at the event. He told the crowd of nearly 100 people that new road projects and the reconstruction of existing roads will focus on the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.