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Niece honors Sgt. Jerry Vick
A 1,000-mile ride of recognition and remembrance
Wrestling on the floor of her grandmother’s house is the way Crystal Peterson remembers Sgt. Gerald Vick of the St. Paul Police Department.
Whereas others reflect upon the fallen officer’s recognition as the city’s only three-time Medal of Valor recipient, he was simply “uncle” or “my godfather” to a young Crystal, who says she adored her “big brother-like” figure.
Honoring Uncle Jerry and the ultimate sacrifice of all law enforcement officers, Peterson will embark upon a 1,000-mile bike ride this upcoming May.
Her journey is scheduled to begin in Georgia and traverse the southeastern United States towards Washington, D.C., for celebration of National Police Week.
Vick, 42, was shot and killed May 6, 2005, while undercover on the East Side in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. A graduate of North High School in North St. Paul, Vick was a 16-year veteran of the police department. He was participating in a vice and narcotics unit investigation the night of his slaying.
Maplewood, North St. Paul joins ride
Peterson is a member of Law Enforcement United Team Minnesota, an organization comprised of officers and survivors, such as Peterson, left behind after a death in the line of duty.
“We’re committed to honoring fallen officers and ensuring that their surviving family is supported all the time and never forgotten,” says Officer Tony Ofstead of Woodbury.
Team MN joins Law Enforcement United affiliates from across the nation at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Ga., to begin their annual 1,000-mile ride.
A contingent of five from Minnesota will participate in 2013, including Rick Crittenden Jr., whose father, North St. Paul police Sgt. Richard Crittenden, was killed while investigating a domestic disturbance call on Labor Day 2009.
Others on the ride will be Maplewood police officer Tim Flor, Frank Molina of the St. Paul Police Department, Ofstead and Peterson.
The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center group joins a much larger 250-mile “Road to Hope” ride in Chesapeake, Va., on May 9 for the final fourth of their cycling journey.
Let it rain
Peterson was first introduced to Law Enforcement United in 2006 when her family traveled to Washington, D.C., for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service.
Each FLETC and Road to Hope rider wears a bracelet remembering an officer lost in the past year. The riders give the bracelets to the slain officers’ family members at a Police Week candlelight vigil.
“The support we received from the different cop organizations was amazing, especially for my grandma and making sure she was able to go to Washington, D.C. Having communities and places to go to (where there are people) who know and understand definitely helped,” Peterson says.
Continually nagged by her uncle about the importance of exercise, Peterson thought participating in a bicycle ride as a form of remembrance was the perfect choice.
“It was something I wasn’t able to do before, and Jerry was always encouraging me to get out and do something and be active,” Peterson says. “Knowing that I could remember him in my own special way was just right for me.”
Her first bike trek with Law Enforcement United was in 2011 when she conquered the 250-mile ride from Chesapeake to D.C. And enough energy remained in the tank after that ride for Peterson to complete her first-ever 5K run the very next day.
The mother of two young boys trains indoors for a couple hours at least five days of the week.
“My 4-year old sits next to me while I am riding on my spin bike, which was purchased to make sure no one gets their little fingers caught in the spokes. He has his own little bike and pedals while I’m riding,” Peterson says.
Vick was well known for his light-hearted approach to life, so Peterson wonders what “fun” surprises he might share with her on the 1,000-mile ride.
“I am wondering if he is going to bombard me with bad weather to make sure I remember him really well,” Peterson says laughingly. “You know, I will be biking over the eighth anniversary of his death. He is such a jokester. It is totally something he would do.”
Law Enforcement United riders raise funds for the Concerns Of Police Survivors organization and the Officer Down memorial website.
Beyond the March 7 fundraiser held by Peterson at Monkey House in White Bear Lake, LEU Team Minnesota will host an additional event March 22, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Jimmy’s Event Center in Vadnais Heights.
Proceeds from the $15 donation tickets for adults and $5 for kids 14 and younger will benefit C.O.P.S. and ODMP. The family-friendly event will feature a food, silent auction, bean bag tournament, face painting, and more. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Peterson says she is considering moving beyond riding solely in remembrance and recognition of her uncle. This year she hopes to receive a bracelet with the name of an officer lost in the past year and completing the 1,000-mile journey in his or her honor.
“I am a survivor,” Peterson says. “I know what it is like to have lost a family member in the line of duty. I want to share that experience with others and help in their time of loss.”
Rebecca Rowe can be reached at email@example.com or at (651) 748-7816.
How to support Peterson’s tribute ride
Honoring the legacy of her uncle St. Paul police Sgt. Gerald Vick and other slain law enforcement officers, Crystal Peterson is hosting a fundraiser on Thursday, March 7, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Monkey House in White Bear Lake.
Monkey House is located at 1815 Buerkle Road. The event is open to the public.
For more information, call Peterson at 651-792-5203 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations for Concerns Of Police Survivors organization and the Officer Down Memorial Page through Peterson can also be made online at http://www.razoo.com/story/2013-leu-ride.