Helping Out: Memorial motorcycle rides raise funds, keep memory of 9/11 alive

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ted Sjurseth

A consultant for NJVC, an information technology provider. He is also president and founder of the America's 9/11 Foundation, an organization that hosts an annual Sept. 11 memorial motorcycle ride and supports first responders and their families.

Charitable giving highlights: Has given equipment and motorcycles to police departments and scholarships to children of first responders, totaling $500,000.

Personal: Lives in Leesburg with his wife and daughter.

On Sept. 12, 2001, I was due to go on the Trail of Tears motorcycle ride from Tennessee to Oklahoma. The day before, I looked on the television at work and saw the World Trade Center tower with smoke coming from it. I know right away given my job, where I ran a data center for the government, that I couldn't leave for my trip.

In October, my wife and I rode by ourselves to New York City. It was a ghost town. You could throw your wallet in the middle of the street and if anyone was out there, they would bring it back to you. It was really weird.

There was a guy who would come out of his store and say, "Let me make you a suit for a hundred bucks. It's a $500 suit but I just need to pay the rent and buy food." You felt for him.

That's when I knew something had to be done.

On Nov. 10, 2001, we took a bunch of bikers there to help raise the economy. It was pretty emotional. Afterward, I got hammered with e-mails requesting for us to do it again. So we did.

In 2004, we had 1,700 bikes. We collected money from sponsorships and ride registration and donated it to the New York City firefighters.

Each year we give college scholarships to children of first responders and give away a bike to a police department.

We usually have between 500 and 800 bikers go through about 80 police districts, making stops at all three crash sites in memory of those that died that day.

We have a gentleman that rides with us who was in the second tower. The ride is very emotional for him. It's something he said he has to do for all the people that died. There are people from the Pentagon that come..

The whole purpose of these rides is to not forget that day.

-- Interview with Vanessa Mizell

© 2010 The Washington Post Company