19th annual Cycle Across Illinois visits Naperville

Donate Today Buy This Video

After riding 84 miles, the 19th annual Cycle Across Illinois bike ride ended its third day in Naperville on Saturday evening.

A ceremony was held at the Naperville Police Department to honor former Naperville Chief of Police, Robert Worthel, who was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1927.

What is the Cycle Across Illinois?

Cycle Across Illinois benefits the Illinois Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), which supports families that have lost loved ones in the line of duty.

The Illinois chapter of COPS started in 2005 and every year, over the course of a couple of days, they ride bicycles across Illinois to remember the fallen.

“So on average, the first two days was 110 to 112 (miles),” said Cycle Across Illinois Participant, Kelly “Six” Kraeger. “Today is close to that and then tomorrow is about 40 or 50. So overall over the years, we’ve averaged anywhere from 300 to 400 miles in the four days.”

The pedaling began in Springfield on Thursday morning and will end on Sunday in Rosemont. Throughout the four days, the group holds over 10 ceremonies in different cities along the way.

“They carry a book with them of fallen police officers from throughout the country,” said Naperville Mayor, Scott Wehrli. “And that book every year, gets thicker and thicker with names of those whose lives have been taken in the line of duty. It’s our goal to keep that book where it is today. We don’t want to add more names to it.”

COPS offers support to surviving families

Kraeger lost her brother in the line of duty in 2007. Illinois State Trooper, Brian Kraeger, was 24 when he lost his life. After his passing, the Kraeger family was able to find support through COPS.

“When this organization came to us to help us with our grief and we saw that this bicycle ride was a part of this, we wanted to join, to give back and to also give hope and emotional support to other people who unfortunately have to join this organization when they lose their officer,” said Kraeger.

Cycle Across Illinois has over 100 participants this year and all of them share a close bond with one another.

“I know I can pick up the phone 24-7 from each end of the state and I can call any of these people,” said Kraeger. “Whether it’s just a chat or if I’m having a rough day or if I need someone to help me, they would be there in a heartbeat, every single one.”

Have a story idea? We’d like to hear from you!