They started in Wilmington, N.C. with a heat index of 103. The next few hours, it got hotter. Five days later, riding up Biltmore Avenue with an escort from APD motorcycles, AFD Rescue 3, and various support vehicles, the 30 firefighters from N.C., S.C. and Fla. finished strong with a run to the stage.
At the front, two firefighters held the t-shirt belonging to Capt. Jeff Bowen high.
After a few minutes of hugging, family reunions and high-fives, the group presented widow Stacy Bowen with a check for $25,000.
Firefighter Jay Bettencourt, a close friend and co-worker with Capt. Bowen said of the ride, “It was a struggle. It was hot, it was wet, we were tired… it was just the way he would have wanted it, he never took the easy way out. He would be right here now.” Bettencourt and Bowen had been training together for a marathon when Bowen was killed a year ago fighting a difficult fire in a medical office building, the t-shirt was Bowen’s. Bettencourt wore it for the marathon and registered Bowen’s name.
Throughout the ride, firefighters took turns keeping the shirt in a place of honor.
The work is not done, Bowen left a mother, a wife and three children. They have raised 86% of the $40,000 goal. Contributions can be made online here.