“I worked in the emergency department on the day of the Sandy Hook shooting, so I got to see first hand,” said Gordon Plaut, a Ridgefielder who worked in Danbury Hospital on Dec. 14, 2012. “Children getting shot — it’s an experience you can never forget.”
Plaut will be leaving Friday, April 26, on what has become an annual journey for him: the Team 26 bicycle ride in memory of the Newtown tragedy and its victims.
Ridgefielder Mike Conlan is supporting the trip as a bike mechanic, Plaut said, and former Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee chairman Monte Frank is another of the bike riders.
“There are 26 of us representing each of the 26 people shot at Sandy Hook,” Plaut said.
“We typically go to Washington D.C. And this year we’re going to be going to Squirrel Hill (in Pittsburgh), where the shooting was at the synagogue,” he said.
“We leave from Sandy Hook and we’re going to be stopping at the Ridgefield Bike Shop in the morning of the 26th. We’ll be arriving around 10 o clock.
“We’ll be riding over 600 miles, and we’ll be stopping along the way with rallies.”
The journey is a personal statement — perhaps a slightly different one for each of the Team 26 riders.
“My personal feeling on it is there’s a lot of polarity in the United States about a lot of political issues and Second Amendment rights and gun issues are among them,” Plaut said. “But I think we all agree we don’t want our children to be shot in schools. If we can all come together and try to come up with a way we can reduce gun violence in the US. I think we’ll all be better off.
Monte Frank lived in Ridgefield from 1996 to 2003, and now lives in Newtown. In addition to serving on the Democratic Town Committee, he worked as an attorney on some of the town's Bennett’s Pond litigation.
“During the 600 mile ride from Newtown to Pittsburgh, we will be holding events in small towns and big cities to bring people together, raise awareness of the public health crisis presented by gun violence and to honor the memories of the 26 children and teachers killed at the Sandy Hook School,” Frank said. “This year, we are focusing on the unfortunate growth of attacks on our houses of worship. To reduce gun violence, we must all come together as one nation to stomp out hate. So, we'll ride to Pittsburgh uniting Newtown with Squirrel Hill and all communities in between.”
There’s a website — team26.org — where people can learn more about the ride, and also make donations in support of it.
Schedule of events
Here's the schedule Team 26 will be following over the next week:
- Trinity Episcopal Church Service, 36 Main Street, Newtown, CT, 8:00 - 9:00 am (Facebook Event, Location)
- Ridgefield Bicycle Company Meet & Greet, 88 Danbury Rd, Ridgefield, CT, 10 - 10:30 am (Location)
- Peekskill, NY (location TBD), 12:00 -1:00 pm
- Morristown, NJ rally, Town Hall, 200 South Street, Morristown, NJ 5:00 pm (Flyer, Location)
April 27 – Morristown, NJ to King of Prussia, PA – 123 miles
- Morristown, Send-Off at Town Hall, 200 South Street, Morristown, NJ 7:45 am (Location)
- Trenton, NJ Rally, City Hall, 319 E. State Street, Trenton, NJ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm (Flyer, Location)
- Philadelphia Rally, Temple University Louis Katz School of Medicine, 3500 North Broad Street Philadelphia, PA , 3:00 - 4:00 pm (Location )
- Abington Friends School, Tribute to Team 26’s David Hoyle, 575 Washington Ln, Jenkintown, PA, 4:45- 6:00 pm (Location)
April 28 – King of Prussia, PA to Baltimore, MD – 108 miles
- St. Paul's Baptist Church, Meet & Greet in tribute to Bianca Roberson, 1 Hagerty Blvd, West Chester, PA, 9:00 - 9:30 am (Location, About Bianca)
- University of Delaware Rally, Harker Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory, 221 Academy St, Newark, DE, 11:00 am -12:00 pm (Location)
- Baltimore City Hall Press Conference, 100 Holliday St, Baltimore, MD 4:00 - 5:00 pm (Location)
April 29 – Baltimore, MD – Rest Day / Community Service
April 30 - Baltimore, MD to Chambersburg, PA – 93 miles
- Gettysburg Rally, Seminary Ridge Museum Peace Portico, 111 Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg, PA 2:00 -3:00 pm (Flyer, Location)
May 1 – Chambersburg, PA to Somerset, PA – 126 miles
- Flight 93 National Memorial, Shanksville, PA
May 2 – Somerset, PA to Pittsburgh, PA – 68 miles
- Tree of Life Synagogue Stop, 2:45 pm
- Pittsburgh Rally, Sixth Presbyterian Church, 1688 Murray Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 3:00 - 4:00 pm (Flyer, Location)