Naples, Florida to New York City is about 1,300 miles. On Aug. 20, a team of about 40 bicycle riders, with their crew of about 20 more, set out on that journey. They plan to reach New York City by Sept. 11, to honor the emergency responders who died in the line of duty.
One of those riders is Marana police officer Dan Rowan. Rowan is a former New York City firefighter from Engine Company 33 and Ladder Company 9. Ten of the 14 firemen from that station, who responded to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, were killed that day.
For Rowan, the Brotherhood Ride, which consists of covering 70-100 miles a day, is therapeutic. It is also a way he can raise awareness and donations to benefit the families of emergency responders who gave their lives while trying to protect the lives of others.
“When things like this happen, especially anniversary dates, I need to work, and my department knows this,” Rowan said early last month as he prepared for his ride with other firefighters, police officers, and medics.
“I think about it all of the time, but I am not psychologically shot.”
The memories of that day are still fresh in his mind, even now, 10 years later.
Last Thursday, Rowan said he visited Salisbury, N.C., a day prior. The town had purchased an I-beam from the Twin Towers and it was mounted on a truck. Rowan took one look at that piece of metal and started to cry.
“They didn’t know what they really had,” Rowan said. “They didn’t even have a clue.”
The police officer was all too familiar with what the piece of metal represented. When Rowan was working to clean up the mass amounts of wreckage in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks 10 years ago, he was given a bucket and a can of spray paint.
“You sprayed a piece of the
I-beam that you found the remnants of bodies near,” he recalled. “They had an I-beam with spray paint on it…. This was a piece that had laid on top of another body.”
He knows the people of the town will now cherish how important that I-beam is, and will no long simply look at it as a piece of metal.
For Police Chief Terry Rozema of the Marana Police Department, he knows how important this trip is for Rowan.
“With this being the 10-year anniversary, there is a lot of attention being given to it, and rightfully so,” Rozema said. “I think that having somebody who works for our agency, who was directly involved, was at Ground Zero, was in the building, and was part of that moment of history, go for an event that is going to raise money for the victim’s surviving families, I think is an outstanding tribute and a great opportunity.”
When Rowan isn’t riding his bike for the Brotherhood Ride, he loves what he does as a police officer.
“He relates to people on whatever level they are at,” Rozema said. “Whether they are driving a Mercedes Benz or pushing a shopping cart down Ina Road with all of their belongings in it. He treats people all the same. That is just who he is.”
Rozema said he is also the first person to offer his help when there is a big event, much like he did during the storm a few weeks ago that knocked down numerous power poles along Ina Road.
To follow Rowan and the
other riders on their journey to New York, go to www.brother-