ROXBURY, NJ - Eisenhower Middle School (EMS) students who won’t be riding bicycles in the upcoming Student Unity Tour can still honor slain police officers by being part of a new “cheer squad,” at the event.

The second installment of the Student Unity Tour is scheduled for May 24 at Horseshoe Lake Park. At the event, EMS students will ride bicycles to raise money for the National Police Unity Tour in which officers ride bikes from New Jersey to Washington, D.C., leaving New Jersey on May 9.

Last year’s EMS version - the first - was successful and raised about $2,500 that was donated to the Police Unity Tour organization. But organizer Helen Roddy, a physical education teacher at EMS, saw the need for a few tweaks.

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“New this year, for those that can’t ride, is an EMS cheer squad,” Roddy said in a statement from Roxbury Schools. “These student supporters will encourage the riders along the route.”

As is the case with the students who want to ride in the event, those wishing to just cheer must still raise at least $25 in donations to participate.

Another new feature this year will be a “meet and greet” for students and family members on the prior evening. “When students drop off their bicycles that night, they will have a chance to meet with local law enforcement over some dessert and coffee,” said the statement.

The Student Unity Tour, which starts at noon and will take place on May 25 if it rains May 24, is being arranged by the school’s Character Education Committee.

Students will be able to choose to ride either one or  two laps around the park, with each lap being 1.75 miles long. They will be accompanied by Roxbury police officers.

Only a handful of Roxbury police participated in the Police Unity Tour in past years. However, 17 plan to ride this year, largely to honor former Roxbury Police Lt. Joseph Franklin, who died during last year’s event when he was involved in a multi-bicycle crash.

In March, other Roxbury schools participated in a "Wear Blue for Blue Day" effort in which they gave Roxbury police money they'd raised to help the 17 officers meet the Police Unity Tour entry fee requirements. 

Members of the public can support the EMS event by contacting Roddy (hroddy@roxbury.org) or Shannon Rodas (srodas@roxbury.org) at the school.