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CT United Ride Turns 10

Started by a Trumbull resident, participation in the motorcycle event has jumped from 500 to 3,000 in 10 years.

Trumbull resident Fred Garrity Jr. remembers envisioning the CT United Ride after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"On Sept. 11, I was at work at Northrop Grumman in Norwalk. We saw the impact and how much the world changed," Garrity said at a recent thank-you dinner at Vazzy's in Fairfield.

At $25 a rider, the event raises money for Connecticut police and firefighters and the Connecticut United Way. It has also helped out the families of two Bridgeport firefighters who died in a July 2010 house fire.

The 60-mile route is a rough horseshoe, heading north from Norwalk up to Bethel and down through Monroe and Trumbull into Seaside Park in Bridgeport. The trip takes about two hours and ends with a celebration in the park.

Garrity calls the event a "tribute" that has grossed more than $150,000 since its founding. 

Bridgeport Firefighter Bob Whitbread has been with the ride since the beginning. Whitbread is also president of the Bridgeport Firefighters Union Local 834.

State Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said his parents also rode in one of the tributes.

"We always talk about the never forgetting. We think about that day and what it meant for all of us," he said. "It's very moving."

Duff added, "Thank you for never forgetting. You all have made sure we never forget."

Other speakers were State Sen. Anthony Musto, D-Trumbull, and Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst.

Many people were remembered or thanked at the dinner, including the Bridgepor Police Department Traffic Division, the late Assistant Bridgeport Police Chief Robert Mangano, the late U.S. Army Spc. Wilfredo Perez Jr., killed in Iraq in July 2003, Trumbull Police Officer Michael Gonzalez, who donated half his liver to save a fellow officer's daughter.

Also honored was Marc Gonsalves, an American Northrop Grumman employee who was captured by theRevolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and was held hostage from Feb. 13, 2003, to July 2, 2008.

The ride takes place on Sept. 11. For more information go here.

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