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Cyclists ride to remember San Bernardino shooting victims

For the second year, more than 150 cyclists paid tribute to the victims of the Dec. 2, 2015, mass shooting


Brian Whitehead
San Bernardino Sun

REDLANDS — They rode 14 miles Saturday for the 14 who lost their lives in the Dec. 2, 2015, terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

Keith Moreland rode because he knew shooting victim Nicholas Thalasinos. Aileen Munoz rode because she knew victim Yvette Velasco. Mark Weidhase rode because when two terrorists opened fired inside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, he was among the first responders.

For the second year, more than 150 cyclists on Saturday paid tribute to the victims of the Dec. 2, 2015, mass shooting by riding the streets of Redlands and San Bernardino.

Weidhase called the outpouring of support Saturday "amazing."

"Something like this ride brings all of us together," he added. "Everyone has their way of commemorating the day, but seeing how the cycling community can come together to remember those who died is heart-warming, it really is."

The attack that left 14 dead and 22 wounded took place during a training session and holiday gathering for San Bernardino County's Environmental Health Services Division at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.

The attackers, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27, were killed hours later during a shootout 3 miles away.

The 14-mile memorial ride was a way of showing the survivors and the victims' families "that we're not going to forget that day and we're going to be strong and come together as a community," said Alesandra Wilson, of Ride Yourself Fit, the Redlands cycling crew that helped organize the event.

"This is not going to stop us."

Moreland, a member of Ride Yourself Fit, had known Thalasinos for nine-plus years before Dec. 2, 2015.

The 59-year-old said he speaks with Thalasinos' widow, Jennifer, on a regular basis. The two talk about grief, about sleepless nights, about memories.

"And to think there are 14 families going through the same thing," Moreland said. "It's amazing the ripple effect something like that has on the community, on people personally."

Munoz, a 9-1-1 dispatcher for the California Highway Patrol, answered the emergency phone call of a Dec. 2, 2015, survivor. Last year, Munoz participated in a memorial bike ride held by the San Bernardino Police Department. She said she shed tears that morning.

Saturday, her 14-year-old son Jonathan tagged along.

"Sometimes with these tragedies, it's out of sight, out of mind," Munoz said. "To me, this is an opportunity to remember what happened, what those people went through. The pain is always there."

Weidhase on Saturday retrieved a photo from his Facebook page of him standing shoulder to shoulder with other first responders on Dec. 2, 2015. A special agent at the time, Weidhase was involved in the fatal shootout.

"I fought wars overseas," the 49-year-old veteran said. "That day, the war came to us."

Weidhase now works with Project Hero, a community-based rehabilitation and recovery cycling program for injured veterans. Several riders from his Inland Empire hub joined the memorial ride.

Early in the 14-mile route, members of Walk Yourself Fit, a sister program to Ride Yourself Fit, stood at Barton Road and Alabama Street holding American flags and signs adorned with the names and ages of those lost on Dec. 2, 2015.

Cyclists passed the Inland Regional Center and the makeshift memorial at Waterman Avenue and Orange Show Road.

After finishing the 14-mile course, some rode another 22 miles to remember the 22 wounded in the mass shooting, as well as those lost in other terrorist attacks around the country.

"By remembering and honoring those who died two years ago, I hope it softens people's hearts on issues our country and other countries are facing," Moreland said. "I hope people are more mindful of the things people go through on a daily basis: hardships, sicknesses, personal tragedy.

"I hope we can get back to looking out for each other as individuals."

Copyright 2017 San Bernardino Sun

 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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