By Kevin Coughlin
More than three years after the massacre of schoolchildren and teachers at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT, Team 26 will bicycle to Washington once again to press for stricter gun laws.
And for the fourth time, this group will stop in Morristown, on Saturday, April 9, 2016.
But this year, the Connecticut cyclists will stay overnight, for a dinner at the Morristown Hyatt to benefit Mary’s Fund. The fund honors Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist gunned down at the Sandy Hook School. Her daughter, Maura Sherlach, teaches in South Jersey.
Here is video of Maura Sherlach speaking in Morristown in 2014:
Video: 2014 Team 26 rally in Morristown
Local event organizer Rebecca Feldman, former town council president, accused Congress of “playing politics” with children’s lives.
“If they reflected the will of the overwhelming majority us, every member of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation would support universal background checks which would stem the flow of illegal guns into New Jersey,” Feldman said in a statement.
Mayor Tim Dougherty is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
“This is about creating sensible gun legislation that the majority of the country wants and protecting everybody’s rights. We are glad to stand with so many dedicated members of the NJ gun violence prevention community to support Team 26’s inspiring call to action and the noble mission of Mary’s Fund,” Dougherty said in a statement.
The cyclists are scheduled to arrive at 5 pm, for a rally at town hall. The dinner, hosted by the mayor, follows at 7 pm, with music by the New Jersey Youth Chorus.
Tickets for the dinner are $100. Proceeds support mental health- and social wellness programs for children and adolescents, causes to which Mary Sherlach devoted her life.
At 8:30 am on Sunday, April 10, the green-clad cyclists will depart from the Hyatt, resuming their 400-mile journey by continuing to Philadelphia. Local bikers are invited to pedal with them for as long as they are able, according to Feldman.
“There should be nothing political or partisan about protecting all our children, all our communities, from gun violence,” she said.
“The Newtown school shooting awakened my conscience but it did not move Congress to stop playing politics with all our children’s lives.”
Team 26–named for the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook by a deranged gunman on Dec. 12, 2012–issued this statement, titled “Why We Ride”:
Many have said that if the shooting at Sandy Hook School didn’t drive changes to gun legislation in our country, nothing would. Three years have past since that devastating day and progress has been far too slow.
But we’ve not resigned ourselves—and our children—to the fate of inaction. We’ve not given up our mission for common sense gun legislation. And we’ve not forgotten the 26 who died at Sandy Hook School on December 14, 2012, or the thousands who’ve died since.
We’re a team of 26 cyclists who will be making a 400 mile ride from the steps of Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT to the steps of Congress in Washington, DC to advocate for change.
We ride for HOPE that our elected representatives will choose action over inaction to protect the most vulnerable among us—our children.
We ride for PEACE and a society that holds itself morally responsible to create a better world where gun violence is not so pervasive.
We ride for LOVE of the 26 people we lost, whose lives were full of dreams and boundless possibilities. We ride for common sense CHANGE in gun legislation.
You can follow Team 26 at #RideOn.