Deputy seeks pledges for 9/11 memorial ride
August 24, 2011 - Ten years later, it's a frightening and sad memory that continues to haunt many Americans – commercial airplanes hijacked by Islamic terrorists crashing into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a field in Pennsylvania.
"I remember that day very well. I think everybody does," said Oakland County Sheriff's Deputy David Slazinski. "It basically changed how we do things forever."
The memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks is particularly meaningful to someone like Slazinski, who lost 403 of his fellow public safety workers that fateful day.
To honor their memories as well as the memories of the other approximately 2,600 people who perished in those attacks, Slazinski is participating in the 2011 Tour de Force: 9/11 Memorial Bike Ride.
"It's going to be one of those things you remember for the rest of you life," said Slazinski, who's currently assigned to the Orion Township substation, but used to patrol Oxford.
Tour de Force is a nonprofit organization with a dual mission to honor the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by keeping their memory alive and raise funds to benefit the families of police officers killed in the line of duty each year nationwide.
"Police officers aren't the highest paid (people)," Slazinski said. "There are a lot of times when the family, after an officer dies, is left in financial straits. Anything we can do to help ease those hardships is a good thing."
Slazinski will be one of approximately 200 cyclists and 25 support personnel riding from Ground Zero (where the World Trade Center once stood) in New York City all the way to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
Spanning 285 miles, the memorial trek will begin on Sept. 8 and end on Sept. 11. Along the way, the riders will pass the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
The riders will represent many police and fire departments and emergency medical units from across the United States.
"I'm the only police officer from Michigan participating," said Slazinski, who began his police career in Oxford in the 1990s when the township and village still jointly-operated a local department.
Prior to law enforcement, Slazinski served in the U.S. Army from 1984-86. He was stationed in West Germany with a short-range tactical nuclear weapons unit.
"Between my police and military backgrounds, 9/11 definitely hits home with me," he said.
On a personal note, this ride means a lot to Slazinski because he survived thyroid cancer.
"I went through cancer a couple of years ago and I'm kind of getting back on my feet," he said. "I'm just trying to get in the best shape that I can."
Slazinski is currently soliciting donations for his ride. So far, he's collected about $1,200 in pledges.
"I'd like to get as much as I possibly can, but I'd like to get around $2,500, if I could," he said.
Visit www.tourdeforceny.com, then click on "Make a Donation" and select rider David Slazinski. Donations can also be made by mailing a check or money order payable to Tour de Force at P.O. Box 395, Washingtonville, NY 10992. Note: Rider name David Slazinski.
Slazinksi is also seeking sponsorships from local businesses. Visit www.tourdeforceny.com for more information.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.