U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tampa Special Agent Ellen Pierson has a passion for cycling. Fortunately for her, living in Florida provides the perfect conditions to ride year around.
She also has a passion for honoring the men and women of law enforcement who have fallen in the line of duty, wanting to do whatever she can to ensure that their lives will not be forgotten.
Those two passions combined led Pierson, starting in 2002, to make an annual memorial bike ride from various locations to Washington, D.C. for National Police Week. In 2014, she decided to organize her own bicycle ride – The Honor Roll, comprised of law enforcement officers from local, state and federal agencies and survivors (an individual who lost a loved one in the line of duty). The route varies every year to ensure the group honors the fallen officers across the nation and meets their family and friends.
On Sunday, April 30, she’ll mount her bicycle in New Orleans, Louisiana, to start this year’s Honor Roll, a seven-day journey that will cover more than 700 miles. The first leg of the trip will take Pierson and the approximately 20 riders with her along the Natchez Trace Parkway arriving Nashville, Tennessee, on May 6. On May 10, Pierson will then join the Law Enforcement United Ruff Ride in Cumberland, Maryland, to honor fallen K-9 officers as they make their way to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Every year, Pierson wears a bracelet with the name of a fallen police officer as she begins her journey. This year she’s selected to ride in honor of the late HSI Special Agent Jeremy Scott McGuire. Special Agent McGuire died Jan. 24, 2016, after being struck by a hit-and-run driver while on duty in Miami Beach, Florida.
Pierson created the Honor Roll to increase awareness all over the United States. Planning the rides consists of finding areas that have been affected by line of duty deaths and making sure the route is feasible for travel on bicycles. Over the years, Pierson has developed a network of fellow law enforcement personnel who share her passions for cycling and remembering the fallen. When she reaches out to them to inquire about joining her every year, they’re ready to ride.
“We all pay for the trip out of our own pockets. We are humbled to honor the fallen,” Pierson said. “It’s an experience you never forget, long after your body stops reminding you.”