Leigh Chambers, RN, who has served in Ascension's Via Christi Emergency Department for the past 12 years, and his wife, Christie, a paramedic at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis in Wichita, are flying to Boston today – but not for a vacation.
The group will be riding in honor of five Kansas EMS providers who lost their lives last year – a group that includes Casey Cummings, RN, who worked alongside Leigh in the St. Francis Emergency Department prior to obtaining his nursing degree.
Casey, a U.S. Army combat medic who served several tours in Iraq, worked in the Trauma/Surgical Intensive Care Unit until last September when a tragic accident claimed his life.
By the time the group of riders reach the capitol on Friday, May 18, they’ll number approximately 110, not including Christie and the other “wingmen” traveling the route in vehicles to ensure the riders’ safety.
The riders’ itinerary includes a stop in New York City, where they’ll be met by family members of those who are being honored.
Casey’s widow, Bobby, who served at Via Christi while attending school and now works as a paramedic with Sedgwick County EMS, will be meeting them there, where a blessing of the bicycles and their riders will take place as part of a special Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at Ground Zero.
Once in Washington, the cyclists, wingmen and families of the fallen will take part in Weekend of Honor activities that include a national EMS memorial service and dinner..
Leigh says he considers it an honor to be part of the Kansas EMS team honoring Casey and the other Kansas EMS providers.
“It’s kind of a 360,” says Leigh, who rode for the first time last year in honor of Larry Maxwell, a retired Sedgwick County paramedic and Via Christi monitor tech who died in May 2016. “Everyone riding knows the person they’re riding for and when we ride with other riders, we share their stories and that helps.”
So much so, he says, that Larry’s widow, Sherrill, will be one of the wingmen this year.
For more information about the ride, go to muddyangels.com.
CLICK HERE for a video about the annual memorial bike ride.