Fraternal Order of Police to host bike rodeo

Leanne Horvath

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Macomb’s Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is currently hosting its annual fundraiser to raise money for many of its supported organizations, one of which provides bicycle helmets for every first grade resident of McDonough County.

The FOP has hosted a “Bike Rodeo” in the center of the town square to demonstrate bicycle safety to the children in the area. According to Guy Huston, the president of the FOP Lodge No. 169, this event was rather large and beneficial to the youth of the community.

“We would block off the center part of the town square, set up an obstacle course, teach them about bicycle safety, give everyone who attends safety equipment — gloves, lights, helmets, things like that — and at the end of the event, we would raffle off six bikes to the kids, all of this free of charge to everyone who would show up,” Huston said.

In recent years, however, the venue has changed. The FOP made the decision a few years back to change the way bicycle safety was spread through McDonough County.

“The same kids and parents would attend the event, and the same people were winning bikes every year,” Huston said. “So, in order to reach a broader audience, we decided that the FOP would start giving helmets to every first grader in the county. We would also go to the elementary schools across the county, give a safety presentation, distribute the helmets and spread bicycle safety. One thing morphed into another, and that is what we do now (instead of the Bike Rodeo) just to reach a wider audience.”

The FOP is a brotherhood of active and retired police officers from the community who come together to help out the community and bring needed good to the very area they already serve.

“Eighty percent of the money we receive goes to charities,” Huston said. “Through our fundraising efforts we are able to donate to many different causes. That is basically what we, at the FOP, are there to do. We are there to help out the community that we serve by giving back in whatever way we can.”

Not only does the money go towards bicycle safety within the community, but it also goes towards various outside organizations each with its own worthy cause, such as with scouting groups.

“We sponsor a Cub Scout pack, and I do not have the numbers on hand, but we sponsor St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Network,” Huston said. “We also give to the Special Olympics.”

Huston said the average student can help the FOP in subtle ways: through checking out their website, their Facebook page and even by volunteering.

“Our annual fundraiser is now underway, so keep an eye out for our mailings,” Huston said. “And if you see an officer while walking around campus, just say, ‘Hey, I want to help out the community,’ and they will hopefully get (you) in contact with me, or the secretary or treasurer of the FOP. We really like working with the youth in the community.”

The FOP also provides scholarships for students on campus from McDonough County, but emphasizes their love of the McDonough community outside of the university as well. Huston believes that by providing scholarships they are causing positive change in their community.

He encourages students and members of the community to assist through donations and volunteering.

“We want to make things happen,” Huston said.

Donations for the FOP fundraiser can be made by dropping them off at the Office of Public Safety and made payable to Western FOP No. 169, to P.O. Box 233, Macomb, IL 61455. With these donations, the FOP is hoping to make the community a little better and a little safer.

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