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‘Road to Hope’

Sullivans supporting friend’s bicycle ride to honor fallen law enforcencment officers

May 9, 2019
By MEGHAN BRADBURY (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

A couple who comes from a family of law enforcement officers is bringing awareness to Southwest Florida by sponsoring a good friend while he takes his eighth Law Enforcement United 2019 Virginia "Road to Hope" bicycle ride this week.

Mike Sullivan and Officer John Jorgensen were once next door neighbors with their bedrooms were only 30 feet away from each other. The two soon became best friends and they have stayed in touch throughout the years.

Jorgensen, who was born in the suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, earned a B.A. in criminal justice from Saint Mary's College in Minnesota to pursue a life-long dream of becoming a K9 police officer. In 1997 he was hired by the Roseville (Minnesota) Police Department where he was involved in both the K9 and SWAT.

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PHOTO PROVIDED

Officer John Jorgensen with his partner, K9 Otis.

For more than 15 years, Jorgensen served in the K9 unit working with K9 Major and K9 Otis. K9 Major was assaulted while on duty and died as a result of his injuries. Jorgensen proposed, and testified, for new legislation for the outdated K9 Assault laws in Minnesota, which was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton. The same year K9 Major was inducted into the Minnesota Animal Hall of Fame.

Now in his 20th year in SWAT operations, Jorgensen serves as a team leader on one of the state's largest multi-jurisdictional teams. He is a recipient of the Purple Heart from the Military Order of the Purple Heart due to being shot in the line of duty.

Jorgensen, along with other officers formed the Minnesota Association of Injured Peace Officers in 2009, which is a mentoring group for officers that were injured in the line of duty.

This year, Jorgensen will participate in his eighth Law Enforcement United 2019 Virginia "Road to Hope" bicycle ride, which takes place during National Police Week, to honor those law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. It is a 250-mile bicycle ride from Chesapeake, Virginia, to Washington, D.C., which started Thursday, May 9, and continues to Tuesday, May 14.

Mike and Dawn Sullivan and the Sullivan State Farm Agency are supplying Jorgensen with a rain jacket for his ride to protect him against harsh weather. Jorgensen will also receive a Thin Blue Line Flag, a symbol of empathy for the families of officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

"This is a massive effort that is undertaken that all happens in the capital of our country," Mike said. "We are going to provide some updates of his (Jorgensen's) journey because they shut down the interstates for these bikers."

He said the bike ride will go through some areas where families were actually impacted. Mike said there will be entire towns with fire trucks set up over overpasses to salute these guys as they bike through.

"It's a huge memorial for all of these fallen officers and to us it is such a huge event," he said.

Mike said Jorgensen's ride raises money for those families affected by tragedy in law enforcement. Those who would like to support his campaign can make a donation at www.memberplanet.com/campaign/leunited/va2019/jorgensen.

"We have been seeing some unflattering information as of late of law enforcement," Mike said. "People sometimes forget these are actual family members who have their lives on the line every day. We fully support law enforcement of all types."

Mike said they wanted to support someone they consider family to try and make a difference. He said they will do a matching program online as Jorgensen makes his journey. Mike's Facebook page is @SFAgentSully and Dawn's is @SFAgentDawn.

"We will be pushing it through social networks to try to garner even more support," Mike said. "We kicked it off at the beginning of the month and we are trying to create a ground swell, so when he begins his journey it will make sense of why we are sprinkling it into our community."

Dawn Sullivan said John is allowing them to raise awareness.

"It is about bringing back the respect and recognizing that they are truly family members that are putting their life out there on a daily basis," she said.

Mike said it is truly an honor to support Jorgensen in the honorable ride.

"Every day, thousands of men and women put themselves in harm's way to protect and serve their communities. It's our responsibility to have their backs," he said.

"It's not just about John, it's about our whole family, which motivated us to go in this direction," Mike said, adding that John is currently "carrying the torch right now for hundreds of thousands of families."

Supporting officers means a great deal to Mike because he married into a family of officers. Dawn has two brothers, Joseph Nitti and Dominick Nitti, who are retired law enforcement officers, and her nephew, Thomas Nitti, is a state trooper in upstate New York.

Joseph served in the United States Navy and worked as a New York State Trooper. He is now the Senior Police and Military Training Technician for the New York State Department of Homeland Security Emergency Services where he focuses on counter terrorism, emergency management, fire prevention and control and interoperable and emergency communications.

Dominick held many roles with the Utica Police Department after starting his career in 1995. In 2007 his fellow Officer Thomas Lindsey was shot and killed while conducting a routine traffic stop. Dominick channeled his grief with other officers to form the Thomas Lindsey Foundation later that year. In 2015 he retired as an officer and now serves as the Brevard County School Security Specialist at Sabal Elementary School.

Thomas, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan as part of the Operation Enduring Freedom, received a Purple Heart as a wounded warrior. The last four years he has been a New York State Trooper.

"We hope in our community that they recognize the sacrifices that officers make on a daily basis and they take a moment to also salute the officers and to thank them. We appreciate them," Dawn said. "They are human beings that put their lives on the line every single day that have family members and children. They are continually sacrificing, so our communities are protected."

Mike said every night you worry about their safety.

"I don't think you can actually comprehend the sacrifice unless one of your family members is attached to it," he said.

Sullivan State Farm Insurance is at 2708 Santa Barbara Blvd, Suite 120. For information, call 239-541-3276.

 
 
 

 

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