City firefighters leave for 5,000-mile motorcycle ride to raise funds, honor 9/11 dead, and help veterans

By Corinne Lestch New York Daily News

FDNY Photo Unit
Firefighters John Finnerty, Jason Puser, Matt Sabini, Mike Vincitore, Kevin McEntyre (retired) and Chris Walsh

Firefighters will show respects at Shanksville, Oklahoma City and Aurora.

At the foot of the soaring One World Trade Center, five Bronx firefighters prepared Monday for a long ride to help 9/11 families.

As part of the Hope for the Warriors charity, which aims to enhance the quality of life for families affected by the catastrophic day [sic], the firefighters embarked on a 5,000-mile motorcycle ride to places where national tragedies have occurred.

“We’re going to different sites of tragedies, just to kind of show our respects and that we’re all Americans and we all go through it together,” said Matthew Sabini, 30, of Engine 71 near Yankee Stadium.

The spots include Shanksville, PA, where hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed; the federal building site of the Oklahoma City bombing; Blacksburg, Va., the site of the Virginia Tech shooting; and a new addition to the list, Aurora, Colo., where a gunman killed 12 moviegoers at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises, on July 20.

The five firefighters will stop at each location for a moment of silence.

“If you do something that’s difficult, like going 5,000 miles and doing it over two weeks, it’s tough on your body,” said Chris Walsh, 43, of Ladder 17, who served in Iraq in 2003.

“But if it wasn’t difficult, who would want to give money for it?” said Walsh, the lead organizer.

“It’s the fifth year we’ve done something like this, and this year I decided I wanted to do something a little bigger.”

This is the first time Sabini is taking part in the two-week, 14-city excursion to raise money and awareness for the national charity.

They will also make a stop at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Virginia to host a cook-out with veterans.

“We hang out with the wounded vets,” said Sabini. “These guys should be taken care of better by the government. Everybody owes them a debt of gratitude. So we jumped on board with it.”

The other firefighters making the trek include members from Ladder 29 on E. 138th St. in the South Bronx.

The group is expected to raise more than $16,000.

“It’s kind of therapy. At the same time, it’s kind of like an eight-hour adrenaline rush every day as you’re going through it,” Sabini described. “And to be able to raise money for this organization, I would do it any time. The fact that we get to do it for a good cause is unbelievable.”

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