Two water bottles, a repair kit, two replacement tires, granola bars and a phone full of music.
That’s all that Michele Myers, Seaford High School class of 1985, will need at the end of this month when she takes off on a bike on her fifth annual Ride to Remember, honoring the five members of the Seaford school community who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center: Thomas and Timothy Haskell, John Perry, Robert Sliwak and Michael Wittenstein.
Myers, who went for her first ride in 2015, said that this year’s nine-day-long marathon will start on July 31, in Shanksville, Pa., where United Flight 93 crashed that day, and end in Seaford.
“I’ve always wanted to do something to honor the victims of 9/11,” Myers, 54, said. “I wanted to give back to my alma mater, so I decided to ride my bike.” Myers now lives in Rochester.
In the past, she has begun her ride at the WNY Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran’s War Memorial in Buffalo. All of her previous trips have taken eight days. She charts her route south to Seaford, she explained, before she decides where to stop along the way. She said she tries to stop at three fire departments or police stations each day of the trek. While there, she hands out prayer cards in honor of the five Seaford victims and a “Michele’s Ride to Remember” patch.
“I just want them to know that there are still people out there who still appreciate what they do for their communities,” she said. “Almost every fire department I’ve gone to has an experience from that day at ground zero.”
One of her first stops is usually the Brockport Fire Department — about 20 miles from Rochester — because that’s where she was when the attacks took place. She decided to relocate the ride this year and start it at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
Myers, who said that the most difficult part of the ride is the hills, averages about 65 miles a day. To prepare, she practices yoga, does CrossFit training and spends as much time as she can “in the saddle.” She usually rides by herself, she said, though other riders sometimes join her for different segments of her route.
“I just don’t talk about the ride as much as people want me to,” Myers said. “I’m not doing this to get the recognition — it has nothing to do with me. It’s about remembering those who died and those we lost. The other side of it is to honor those who still continue to fight for our country.”
Myers’s journey is a fundraiser, and the public is encouraged to donate online through GoFundMe. All of the money she will raise this year will go to the Seaford 9/11 Patriot Award Committee, which presents the Patriot Award and scholarship to five Seaford High School graduates each year in honor of the Haskells, Perry, Sliwak and Wittenstein. This is Myers’s third time donating to the group.
“Michele Myers’ fundraiser Ride to Remember is a wonderful tribute to Seaford High School’s alumni . . . who lost their lives at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001,” Lynda Schachner, a member of the Seaford 9/11 Memorial Committee, wrote in an email.
Although Myers lives upstate, Schachner said that she hasn’t forgotten what living in Seaford meant to her. “She is a fine example of Seaford pride,” Schachner wrote. “Her . . . feat of riding over 500 miles in 9 days from Shanksville . . . to Seaford is an inspiration to Seaford H.S. alumni throughout the nation, as well as to so many in the Seaford community to ‘always remember’ as we approach this 20th anniversary.”
Jessica Kofod, a 2020 recipient of the Patriot Award, said that the scholarship the awardees receive “would not be possible without the amazing people such as Michele Myers.”
“I have learned just how dedicated every single member of the 9/11 Committee is to honor the legacies of the five Seaford alumni who passed away,” Kofod said. “Michele’s ‘Ride to Remember’ is a truly special fundraising event that honors all those who lost their lives on 9/11 and allows us to remember and honor Timmy Haskell, Tommy Haskell, John Perry, Rob Sliwak, and Michael Wittenstein.”
On Aug. 8, the final day of her trip, Myers will pedal from One World Trade Center and the New York City Fire Department’s Ten House, across from the World Trade Center, to the Towers of Freedom 9/11 Military Monument at John J. Burns Park in Massapequa.
From there, she said, she hopes that as many people as possible will join her as she rides to the finish, at Seaford High’s 9/11 Memorial.