By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In this Sunday’s Philadelphia Pro Cycling Classic, one team of riders is sponsored not by a company looking to advertise, but by firefighters, for firefighters.
“Firefighters Cycling” is an elite team that will be riding in memory of firefighters who died in the line of duty and to raise awareness about firefighter health issues.
Their jerseys will feature the logo of Firefighters’ Union Philadelphia Local 22 on their chests and the last names of firemen Michael Goodwin, Robert Neary, and Daniel Sweeney, all of whom died in the line of duty in Philadelphia in the past 13 months, on the sleeves.
When the firefighters asked professional racer Adam Carr (second from right in photo) to guest-ride, he said it would be a privilege.
“Professional sports can be pretty selfish, so it’s nice to do something with a bigger goal than just yourself,” he said today during a meeting with reporters at the Manayunk Wall. “And it’s great to see the Philly firefighters, what they do and how hard they work.”
Team founder Allen Wahlstrom (far right) is a retired firefighter and EMT from Washington State.
“In 2009 we started finding out the firefighters in New York that were still sick and dying from 9/11, from all of the toxins they were ingesting, so we decided to put a team together to raise awareness,” he said today. “That’s why we go to races like Philly.”
He says about 100 firefighters are lost each year around the country, about 60 percent due to heart attacks and strokes in the line of duty.