• 45°

Brotherhood of cyclists passes through Rowan County

By Savannah Morgan 


SALISBURY — Carolina Brotherhood, a group of firefighters, law enforcement personnel and first responders from across North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, passed through Rowan County on Tuesday as part of its sixth annual bike ride.

Jay Baker, a battalion and division chief for the Salisbury Fire Department, has participated each year as a cyclist. But this year, he participated as a member of the cyclists’ support team. His duty was to pull the support trailer and set up for breaks and overnight stays for the cyclists.

“I miss riding my bike; that’s my first passion,” said Baker. “But being a member of the support team is just as important. It’s just a different side of the fence.”

The weeklong ride began June 12 in Smithfield and will continue until Saturday, when it will come to an end in Beaufort, South Carolina — a total trip of about 625 miles. Tuesday’s leg of the ride was in memory of Locke Fire Department Lt. Chris Phillips, who died in 2015 of an apparent heart attack. The leg began in Southern Pines and ended at Grace Church, where the riders spent the night.

The cyclists are typically awake by 5:30 each morning and on the road by 7 or 8 a.m. They would finish their day’s journey by about 4:30 or 5, depending on the mileage. On average, they travel between 90 and 110 miles each day, said Baker.

The mission of Carolina Brotherhood is to provide both emotional and financial support for the families of law enforcement officers and firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. The most rewarding part of their journey is getting to see everything come together, especially as they meet families of fallen brethren, said Ben Wooten, a firefighter who helps coordinate the ride for Carolina Brotherhood.

“There are moments within the ride that take your breath away,” said Wooten. “There are people who have made the supreme sacrifice, and it’s important to honor their legacy and remind their family members that they are never going to be forgotten.”

Many of the cyclists and support team members have been involved since the founding of Carolina Brotherhood in 2012. Daniel Hefner, a retired firefighter from Charlotte, has been a member of the support team since the beginning — until this year. This year, thanks to his new hip and knee, Hefner was able to experience the journey as a cyclist.

“I’m happy on both sides,” Hefner said. “If it wasn’t for the support team, we couldn’t do it, but I do enjoy going fast down the hills on my bike this time,” he said with a smile.

Hefner completed his first ever 100-mile trip Tuesday, an achievement he says he couldn’t have managed without his younger brother, Bingham Hefner, who has participated as a cyclist each year.

“I would not be doing this if it wasn’t for him,” Hefner said, a tear sparkling in the corner of his eye. “He has encouraged me, pushed me, given me advice, and ridden alongside me every mile of the way.”

Support and love were visible among the group — for one another, for their mission, for the families of those fallen in the line of duty, and for other firefighters and law enforcement personnel they encountered along the way.

Jay Baker may have said it best: “Brotherhood is special. It’s a support system in place. And this ride, this group — it shows brotherhood in action.”

For more information, visit carolinabrotherhood.com or follow @CarolinaBhood on Twitter. Visit bit.ly/2a9MxSN to track the riders as they progress this week.



With two reported Tuesday, county averaging more than two COVID-19 deaths per day


Randolph County deputies cleared in shooting death of Rockwell man


Blotter: Man faces drug charges after being reported as ‘suspicious’


Duke Energy, NC officials announce coal ash expense deal


Police, firefighters parade for hospital staff


Demand continues to exceed supply as county shifts to vaccine appointments


‘Uncommonly good man:’ Local appraiser Scott Robinson dies after fall at home


Rowan Planning Board settles on screening requirements for solar farms


Transition to mass vaccination sites irks NC health systems


Mississippi sheriff: One dead after Salisbury children left in woods; father sought


Man faces misdemeanor child abuse charges


Two charged with breaking into building on South Main Street, drug possession


Nina Oliver: County will move to appointments for vaccines


Political Notebook: North Carolina lawmakers say they look forward to working with Biden

Ask Us

Ask Us: How will county administer second doses of vaccine?


White House begins talks with lawmakers on COVID-19 relief


81 new COVID-19 cases reported Sunday as county hints at appointment model


Blotter: Salisbury man charged with shooting at police, robbing Goodwill in December


During early mornings and weekends, F&M Bank handled hundreds of Paycheck Protection Program loans


Salisbury VA uses appointment model for COVID-19 vaccinations, tops 3,300 doses


Response remains mixed as city continues gathering public input on downtown street plan


Community offers support for, memories of Knox teacher Beaver


Loan program for women, minority entrepreneurs expected to launch in spring


Symphony offers virtual performance of ‘Resounding Romance’ Feb. 12-14