Houston Police Department
HPD Officers on a Quest for a Cure

June 24, 2015 - At 9 a.m. today (June 24), 40 HPD officers and three civilians with the HPD Bicycle Relay Team hit the road, seeking a cure for leukemia and lymphoma.

The team, led by 6-year-old leukemia patient Holt Griffith, left the steps of Houston City Hall to begin the first stage of their eight-day, 2,200 mile non-stop journey to New York City.

This is the 34th year HPD officers have donated their time to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. In the past 33 years, officers have ridden more than 73,000 miles and raised more than $5.6 million. Additionally, almost $300,000 is anticipated from this year's ride. The money is used to help find a cure and improve the quality of life for those battling blood-related cancers.

"Everyone of the team members buy their own bikes, buy their own equipment, use their vacation time to train, use their vacation time to go on the trip," said Senior Police Officer Jorge Gaytan. "They sacrifice a lot, but by comparison it is not enough. We have the easy part. All we have to do is ride our bike. Our cancer patients, those who can't get out of the hospitals, we believe they would trade places with us any day of the week."

Of special note this year: prior to last week's tragic shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, the ride was already scheduled to pass in front of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Citizens and officers who came to this morning's send off had an opportunity to sign a poster, featuring the City of Houston, that will then be presented by HPD officers to the church at 8 a.m. on Saturday (June 27).

In the meantime, as officers pedal through the days and nights, Officer Gaytan had a special message to those suffering from serious illness and their families.

"Do not quit," he said.

"Everyone's always looking for hope-- hope for good weather, hope for good health. You can't spell Houston Police without the letters H-O-P-E. So if you are visiting with a family member who is ready to quit, their breathing is getting shallow, they are not responsive, tell them to think of the Houston Police Department," he said.

"As we are pedaling our bicycles, going up the hills, fighting the good fight, cramping, hurt, tired, we are hoping God will take all the energy we are putting into the pedals and transfer it over to those folks thinking of quitting. We promise, we are never going to quit. This team will ride until we find a cure for leukemia and lymphoma."

For continuing updates on the ride, follow HPD on Twitter (https://twitter.com/houstonpolice) #HPDBikeRelay or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Houstonpolice).

Photos of this morning's send off can be found on the HPD Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/houstonpolice/sets/72157655012002011

KJS/AMD 6-24-15

For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.