Officer to pedal 350 miles in charity ride


WILMINGTON POLICE OFFICER Matt Kiebles (center), his brother, Wheaton Officer Curt Kiebles (right) and family friend Officer Jerry Munoz (left) will participate in this year’s Cycle Across Illinois charity event to benefit Concerns of Police Survivors.
By: 
Pam Monson
Editor

Funds raised will benefit families of officers killed in line of duty

    His brother got him into this, but he keeps rolling in support of his brothers in blue.
    Officer Matt Kiebles of the Wilmington Police Department will mark his fifth year as a rider in Cycle Across Illinois, a charity bicycle ride that raises money and awareness for the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), Illinois Chapter. The ride honors law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty, and organizers try to route it through or near the homes, communities and departments of the officers being recognized.
    Kiebles served as an escort for the ride for three years until his brother, Curt, a police officer in Wheaton, convinced him to leave the comfort of the escort detail and get on a bicycle and pedal the 300- to 400-mile route with him. It was at the very least an opportunity to get in shape, at best a chance to go beyond a blue light bulb to show his support for fellow officers.
    “I come from a law enforcement family, and COPS is an organization that benefits the families of officers who are killed in the line of duty. So, being from a law enforcement family, being law enforcement, it means something to me in the sense that, if something happened to me in the line of duty, I know that COPS would be there to assist my family in their grief journey,” Officer Matt Kiebles said.
    Usually within 48 hours of an officer death a COPS liaison visits the family to assist with funeral arrangements. Later the organization can help them obtain local, state and federal benefits that are available to the survivors of officers killed in the line of duty; or get them into support programs. Kiebles said the ride will raise funds to send survivors to National Law Enforcement Memorial Week ceremonies in Washington, D.C., and to send the officer’s children to grief support summer camp.
    The 13th annual Cycle Across Illinois will take place Thursday, July 13 to Sunday, July 16. The route is expected to be about 350 miles, beginning with a back tire dip in the Mississippi River in Alton, and ending in Maywood. Each day’s ride can be as long as 125 miles. Riders have to keep pace with the pack, maintaining an average speed of 12 to 17 mph, and they encourage one another as they pick off the miles.
    “We ride in pairs, so you ride next to someone and you’re talking to them the whole time ... as long as the weather’s OK, not to hot or too windy, you can have a conversation, and you can get to know a lot of different people doing that,” Kiebles said.
    Kiebles began training in early February, with his bike on an indoor trainer, in order to be in condition for the mid-year trek. He’ll be out on the road beginning this month, because the friction of tire on pavement makes a big difference in a 20- to 25-mile ride. When he can get a group up, they’ll do 40 miles at a clip.
    Kiebles is a member of the police department’s bike patrol, which has nothing to do with the ride, but he has noticed some benefits — he doesn’t get saddle sore, and can do about 25 mph on the bike for short distances, putting him on the scene in short order.
    The charity ride is limited to about 60 riders, for logistics and safety reasons, each of whom must raise at least $600. Team Kiebles, including Matt and Curt, Curt’s wife Jennifer, who is part of the support team, and a family friend, Officer Jerry Munoz, have a donations page on Razoo.com. They’d like to raise at least $2,500 as a team. Those who would like to support Officer Kiebles and the Cycle Across Illinois event can do so at razoo.com, just search for Team Kiebles.
    This year’s event will honor Correctional Officer Adam Conrad of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, whose End of Watch came on Jan. 20, 2016; Officer Scot Fitzgerald, South Jacksonville, IL, Police Department, EOW March 4, 2016; Officer Jason Gallero, Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department, EOW Sept. 15, 2016; Officer Blake C. Snyder, St. Louis County, MO, Police Department, EOW Oct. 6, 2016; Officer James Brockmeyer, Chester Police Department, IL, EOW Oct. 28, 2016; and Trooper Bernard D. Skeeters, Illinois State Police, EOW May 20, 1982.