Ride for Our Lives!

My name is Eddie O’Toole and for the last six years I have been actively serving as a Deputy Sheriff working for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, located in northern Virginia.

On Saturday April 22, 2017, I will be participating in a mountain bike race to help represent Law Enforcement Officers as well as raise funds and awareness for Law Enforcement Suicide. I will be participating in the Bakers Dozen Mountain Bike race in Leesburg, VA. Bakers Dozen is a 13+ hour cross country Mountain Bike Race. I will be riding this race solo and in my complete working Sheriff's Office uniform to simulate an entire shift that myself and many other officers work every day. My goal is to complete AT LEAST 12 laps, which is over 100 miles.  Any money I raise, both during the race as well as through this GoFundMe page, will go directly to The Badge of Life foundation.

The Badge of Life works with Law Enforcement suicides, mainly the prevention and awareness of suicide. Their ESC program, Emotional Self Care, is designed to help the Law Enforcement community on an individual level. You can learn more about Badge of Life at the link below. They have an excellent video which I encourage you to watch!

The Badge of Life is a 501c3 non-profit organization which relies heavily on charitable contributions. Please consider donating to this wonderful cause which will go directly to The Badge of Life and surely benefit the many Law Enforcement Officers which have dedicated their lives to our communities. 
This cause means a great deal to me, not only as an active law enforcement officer who can benefit from what The Badge of Life has to offer, but also as someone who has lost a dear family friend, a retired Police Officer, from suicide. Please help to ensure the future of our law enforcement officers by donating AND sharing this with your family and friends! Thank you in advance for your support with this cause!

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During my time with the Sheriff's Office, my partners and I have seen, dealt with and been exposed to a wide variety of events which could be considered to be quite stressful or traumatic. 
These events, which law enforcement officers are repeatedly exposed to during the ‘normal’ day-to-day part of our jobs, are sometimes violent, heart-pounding and disturbing. We usually brush them off, go about our business and move along. Other times we ask each other how we are doing after an event is wrapping up, to ensure our partners are "10-4." Due to the nature of our jobs, all too often, there are those times where we do not feel ok inside, but are expected to ‘suck it up,’ put up a tough front and ‘deal with it’ because we are cops and "it’s just part of the job." 
Sadly, as I mentioned above, I am a surviving family friend of a retired Police Officer, Bill Hurley, who recently took his own life.

This man retired after serving over two decades as a Patrol Sergeant, was an active senior staff member of his church, a loving husband, father and roll model. I grew up with Mr. Hurley’s children, looked up to him and even dressed up as a Police Officer for Halloween using his old Police gear for my costume when I was 6 years old. He continues to be missed by all who knew him.  
To this day, no one knows why he chose to follow a course of action to end his own life. After his funeral, I started asking around to find out what my friends and coworkers may have thought about this incident. I wanted to hear their opinion on why someone might do this. The responses, or lack thereof, made me upset and very frustrated. Most of my coworkers were not even aware this incident had happened, and those who did know about the incident made very little comment about it, alsmost as though they did not want to talk about it. 
Why is this the case?! We are Police Officers, Deputy Sheriff’s, Corrections Officers, Federal Law Enforcement Officers, Brothers & Sisters of the ‘Thin Blue Line!’ At one point in time, every one of us proudly raised our right hand and took an oath to join this team of protectors, helpers, to become 'one of the good guys.' How is it that when one of our own takes their own life we seem to brush it under the rug and do our best to remember the good times? It seems as though we are afraid to talk about them and their actions. Almost as though speaking about it will corrupt us, infect some part of us or make us appear weak; either as individuals or as a group. We all know that our job is tough. We work with some of the most difficult people, most violent situations and most toxic scenarios imaginable in any line of work. It is a fact, this job wears on us. Underneath our badge, uniform and bullet proof vest is a person. We are still human beings who care about people, have families, love and are loved, regardless of how we look and appear to be on the outside. 
Our job, as Law Enforcement Officers, is to take care of people. To protect and serve, right the wrong, fix the problems and to put it simply, to help people. Most of us have a genuine, God given passion for doing this; and will do so even at our own expense. We work long hours, spend days off in court or at training classes, work hard in the gym, miss our kids birthdays, qualify and practice with various weapons and spend a majority of our careers (and personal time) dedicated to helping people we do not even know.
We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others! We owe it to ourselves and our friends, families and loved ones to take care of ourselves, and that is the goal of the people at The Badge of Life. Please help me with this cause as I honor Bill Hurley and ‘Ride for Our Lives’ this April, and help bring an end to Law Enforcement Suicide!

Thank you for taking the time to read about this cause which means so much to me.

God Bless!
Proverbs 28:6
Eddie O’Toole
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Eddie O'Toole 
Leesburg, VA
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.