Despite being in front of news cameras for much of the morning, Rick Snodgrass couldn't escape the emotion of his upcoming motorcycle trek to Ground Zero while speaking with Patch on Friday.
The West Pierce Fire & Rescue engineer conceived the idea of he and his firefighting brothers riding to New York to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Others caught word of it, and his idea soon became a national campaign for firefighters across the country.
On Friday at the Tacoma Fallen Firefighters Memorial, he joined about 35 other firefighters from the Puget Sound — four from and one from Tacoma — who ceremoniously departed east.
"It's important to all of us," Snodgrass said. "I still get goosebumps just thinking about it."
Along the way, the group will grow as riders from other departments in the U.S. and Canada join them. Eventually, an estimated 5,000 firefighters on motorcycles will converge on New York.
The firefighters from West Pierce and the rest of Puget Sound will have clocked some of the most miles come Sept. 11. On Friday, they gathered along Ruston Way, along with family, friends and other supporters.
Together, they shook hands. They laughed. They prayed.
After a blessing from the Kent fire chaplain, the riders revved their engines. A truck from Tacoma Fire led the riders inland, and two by two, they followed.
"That ought to give you goosebumps," an onlooker yelled as the riders and the sound of their bikes faded away.
To view Patch's video coverage of the ceremony, click on the video in the media gallery.
Be sure to check Patch for daily updates on the West Pierce riders' progress.