PATERSON, NJ- More than 100 firefighters, family and friends participated in the first annual Kerry “Spider” Rivera Memorial Bike Ride on Saturday.
The event was held in honor of Paterson Firefighter Kerry Rivera who lost his life in a bicycle accident on June 26, 2017.
For Rivera’s wife, Rena, the bike ride was another reminder that even though her husband is no longer on the job she, and their three children, Elijah, Ezra, and Eden, are still very much a part of the Paterson Fire Department.
“Kerry loved the Paterson Fire Department, to him they were family,” Rena told TAPinto Paterson reflecting on the days after his death when she was told that she was also “family” and they’d “never let her go.”
“I feel that,” Rena said offering thanks for the support she’s gotten in the past 12 months including roses on Valentines’s Day and help around the home she shared with her late husband.
The cyclists started at Mary Ellen Kramer Park and made their way to Paterson Fire Headquarters where they paused to unveil a new memorial garden built in Rivera’s honor and will soon serve as a memorial to all fallen Paterson firefighters.
Several of Rivera’s colleagues shared their memories working alongside him, including Captain Mike Walker who remembered that he was with Kerry on both his first and last calls. “He was always working hard, making everybody laugh,” Walker said.
“It was an honor to be with Kerry at the start and end of his career.”
Paterson FMBA Local 2 President Kyle Hughes recalled first meeting Rivera at one of the union’s annual balls. “He danced the whole time,” Hughes joked before remembering that from that day on the firefighter was “always smiling and always had a warm hug.”
“Days like today make a chief proud,” Paterson Fire Chief Brian McDermott told the crowd. “This is a reflection of who we truly are.”