ALTON, IL (KTVI)-- More than 50 bicyclists left from the Alton Marina Thursday morning for an emotional ride across Illinois.
They are riding to support the Illinois families of law officers killed in the line of duty.
The group showed up at the marina at 6am and was on the road by about 7:30am. Many of the riders are cops themselves. Others are family members or just supporters of fallen officers.
Kenny Deatherage was doing the ride for the first time. Kenny is the brother of Kyle Deatherage, the Illinois State Police Trooper killed in November of 2012 near Litchfield after he was hit by a big rig during a traffic stop.
"It`s always important to keep the memory of Kyle and your loved ones alive and that`s what this ride is all about," said Deatherage.
Three Granite City officers are also taking part including Sergeant Jenna Deyong.
"This helps to honor and remember. Some of these people buried family members ten years ago but every year when we get together it brings that person back to life for them," said Deyong.
All of the riders got a personalized license plate for their bicycle with their name on it. They were gifts courtesy of Granite City kids doing a community project for the group 'Girls on the Run.'
"It was a really fun project to do at one of our meets and I thought it was really cool to do it," said nine year old Amelia Lour.
The ride is organized by the Illinois chapter of 'COPS' or Concerns of Police Survivors.
Each rider dipped their bicycle into the Mississippi River before starting their journey. After some emotional remembrances of fallen officers, the riders were off.
The group will ride more than 325 miles. It will end on Sunday afternoon at the Chicago Police Department headquarters.
All of the riders have the same message as Kenny Deatherage: 'Remember that there`s a family behind every single uniform.'
This is the 10th year for the ride. It`s a major fundraiser for the 'COPS' group.
Each rider is required to raise at least $600 in donations. That is used to help send fallen officers families to retreats and other support programs.