Illinois State Police troopers and other officers from across Illinois rode their motorcycles Saturday from Downers Grove to Springfield to raise money for a memorial park in Springfield that will honor fallen troopers.
Riders in the 10th annual Motorcycle and Fun Car Run started in the Chicago area and picked up additional participants in Dwight and Bloomington as they headed south. A contingent also rode in from Carlinville and O'Fallon.
Many rode their personal bikes, but officers on ISP and Chicago Police Department motorcycles also made the journey.
Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz estimated that there were about 400 motorcycles in the procession by the time it reached Springfield.
"Everybody came in on motorcycles to benefit the troopers who have died in the line of duty and their families. We have Illinois State Police, we have Chicago P.D., we have sheriff's police, city police, you name it, we've got it," Schmitz said after the ride ended.
Plans for the Illinois State Police Memorial Park call for a reflection pool and a wall with the names of fallen troopers.
If all goes as planned, construction could start this fall, said Jack Garcia, chairman of the ISP Memorial Park Foundation. The cost of the memorial is estimated at about $3 million. The cost is being covered by donations from state troopers, the public and businesses. No tax money is being used.
"The memorial park is not only for the fallen officers, it's also for their families," he said. "Those families live with loss every day. They are a part of our family. We are never going to forget them. The memorial park will be a place where they can go and reflect, look at the names and know that their loved one wasn't lost in vain."
Just last month on June 28, Illinois State Police Trooper Ryan Albin was killed in a vehicle crash on Interstate 74 in the area of Farmer City, which is southeast of Bloomington.
Albin, 37, of rural Bellflower in McLean County, had been with the State Police for 11 years. He had two children, ages 6 and 2.
"We have lost one of our fellow troopers. We haven't been as strong since that day," Schmitz said. "That's why we're here. We're trying to make sure we can help that family recover."
Schmitz said Gov. Bruce Rauner joined them on the ride.
"It was a nice ride. We got a little more sun than we wanted, but it was a great ride," said the sunburned Schmitz.
Go to to isphf.org for more information on the park.