Schaeffer's Harley-Davidson

Schaeffer’s Harley-Davidson Raises Money for Road to Hope in Pennsylvania

#DealershipsGivingBack: Reading Police Department vehicles could be seen in the parking lot of Schaeffer’s Harley-Davidson, in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania.

The visit Thursday was for a good cause. It was a way for the department to thank the dealership for a $700 donation sponsoring two city police motorcycles in Law Enforcement United’s Road to Hope ride event in May.

“This is the first year that I learned about it,” said Cherie Schaeffer-Bogotuik, dealership controller. “Right away we were honored to be asked to do it.”

Road to Hope

Law Enforcement United is a nonprofit organization made up of law enforcement, survivors of fallen officers, and civilian supporters. The organization’s mission is to honor the fallen and remember the families left behind. 

Road to Hope is an annual fundraiser and bicycle ride event. Last year’s event was canceled due to the COVID pandemic. This year’s has been modified as the pandemic continues.

Proceeds from the event support Concerns of Police Survivors, the Officer Down Memorial Page and Spirit of Blue Foundation.

During normal years, bicyclists riding for the Pennsylvania chapter would start their ride May 10 in Reading and ride for three days to Washington, D.C. The ride ends at the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial on May 13. Bicyclists consist of off-duty police officers, survivors of fallen officers, families, friends and anyone who wants to support the cause. 

The bicyclists are accompanied by motorcycle escorts to  protect the riders and help with traffic control during the trip.

Riders hear from survivors of fallen officers during stops along the route. A candlelight vigil is held at the end of the ride and the names of fallen officers from the prior year are read aloud.

Tricia Wertz, LEU’s Pennsylvania chapter vice president, has been a part of numerous Road to Hope events. 

“When you ride into DC and there’s hundreds of bicyclists, to see that group and ride in and see all the survivors that we’re riding for, it’s an awesome feeling,” Wertz said.

Due to COVID, this year’s event will be a two-day ride from Reading to Harrisburg for the PA chapter.

A good cause

Wertz knows from experience the impact these organizations, such as COPS, have on the families of fallen officers. In 2006, Wertz’s husband Scott, a Reading police officer, was killed in the line of duty by a suspect he was chasing.

COPS reaches out to survivors of fallen officers and hosts a camp each summer for surviving spouses and their children. The camp provides a retreat-like atmosphere where spouses can share their experiences and children are kept busy with various activities, at no cost to the family.

Wertz and her sons, Jared and Josh, attended the camp for a few years.

“We’re around people like us,” Wertz said of the camp. “To be able now to give back for so much that was given to us is a lot of why I do it. It just helps so much. My kids and I, we still have friendships with the people we met at camp.”

Wertz has taken part in the Road to Hope as a rider  with the Virginia chapter before a chapter was created in Pennsylvania. She has also participated as a rider with the Pennsylvania chapter. 

“I’ve been in it so long and I want to make sure that it keeps going because it’s such a great thing,” Wertz said.

Having the Reading Police Department take part the past few years makes the event that much more special for Wertz. Some of the department’s officers will also be taking part as bicyclists, including James Thomas, Pablo Dominguez and Gregory Zawilla. 

This year’s event will not be the first for Thomas and Zawilla, but it will be for Dominguez. Dominguez had planned to ride in last year’s event.

Community support

Schaeffer’s Harley-Davidson became involved as a sponsor through Officer Dale Trythall Jr.

Trythall is an instructor for the dealership’s safety program and mentioned the event to Bogotuik. When Bogotuik heard the department was looking for sponsors for the motorcycles, it was an easy decision for her and the dealership.

“We like to support the community and everything around us,” Bogotuik said. “Causes like this, everybody should know about.”

In addition to the sponsorship, the dealership had two more surprises for the officers and Wertz. Hillbilly Hooch, Orwigsburg, donated a special batch of their moonshine named “Blueberry Lives Matter” to the officers. The dealership also gifted the officers and Wertz guardian bells.

As Denise Schaeffer Calderone, marketing coordinator, presented the bells to the officers she explained the legend behind them.

“Bikers put these bells on their motorcycles and they collect the evil spirits from the roads so they have a safe ride,” Calderone said. “We picked the flags and stars bells for you to put on your bikes so you can be safe on your travels.”

Donations to LEU can be made at leunited-pa.org.

Source: Schuylkill County motorcycle dealership’s donation helps Reading police take part in Road to Hope