ROXBURY, NJ - More than 100 Eisenhower Middle School (EMS) students participated in the third annual EMS Student Unity Tour this week, raising more than $4,000 for charity and showing support for the Roxbury Police Department.

The event, blessed with a sunny and warm day, took place at Horseshoe Lake Park in Succasunna. Student riders and staff rode ttheir bicycles two laps (3.5 miles) around Horseshoe Lake Park to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Eighth graders led off the event behind Roxbury Police Officer Silvio Valdes,  Roxbury Police Chief Marc Palanchi shared with the students that Valdes would be retiring in February. 

Sign Up for E-News

This event was started two years ago at the school through the Character Education Committee and has grown with participation and enthusiasm.

The Unity Tour was preceded by a Monday night meet-and-greet at EMS. Students and their families mingled with Roxbury police over sandwiches and desserts donated by local vendors. Students were able to drop off their bicycles in anticipation of the big event, eliminating chaos on Wednesday morning.

On that morning, participants gathered at Horseshoe Lake for a brief opening ceremony led by Heather Roddy, EMS physical education teacher and event coordinator. “When you’re organizing this, you have one little goal in your mind that when we send our police officers off to the unity tour we’re standing there proud as a school that we had something to do with that,” said Roddy.

Roddy’s goal this year was to break $10,000 cumulatively from the last three years.

“This year guys raised $4,647, but as usual, guess what you did,” she said. “You surpassed the $10,000 mark and you guys hit $15,133."

Roddy recognized teacher Kim Farnia as the teacher whose the class led in donations and participation.

“We have three organizations teaming up together for one common cause," Roddy said. "We have Eisenhower Middle School, the Unity Tour started by Patrick Montuore and the people that make this event what it is: The Roxbury Police Department. Our primary goal of this program is to build strong community relationships while creating really great memories along the way ... The lasting memory I want to pass on to you is the lifelong commitment to give back to your community and I have no doubt that you guys are going to be doing that.”

Special thanks went out to local businesses and groups that took part in this year’s event. Those named were Anthony & Sons, Burrini’s Olde World Market, DJ Chris D’Amico, EMS PTO, Marty’s Bikes, Roxbury Rotary Club, Roxbury Bagel and ShopRite (Romano Family).

Those who would like to offer support for this EMS event in the future, should reach out to Roddy (hroddy@roxbury.org) at Eisenhower Middle School.