On Saturday, January 29, 2011, hundreds of motorcycle riders from the central Florida area converged on the Wing House restaurant on South Florida Avenue in Lakeland to pay tribute to fallen officers, and to donate money to the officers’ loved ones.
The Bubba The Love Sponge Foundation, Inc., a 501(3) (c) charity organization established by the radio show personality in 2008, hosted the event, with plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to various families of fallen officers, such as PCSO’s Sgt. Wes Whitmore, who was killed in the line of duty in Winter Haven on December 12, 2010.
Wes’ wife Sherry appeared at the event today to thank the foundation and the Sheriff’s Office for their support. A PCSO deputy sheriff escorted her in a patrol car during the ride.
Preliminary figures indicate nearly 500 bikers registered for today’s event. The ride, which was led by Sheriff Grady Judd in a PCSO patrol car, began at the Wing House, went south on South Florida Avenue, then west on County Line Road, back to Drane Field Road and eventually back to South Florida and the Wing House. The ride last approximately 45 minutes, and Polk County residents all along the way respectfully waved, took photos, and cheered to see all the bikers and law enforcement officers. The riders were then treated to a meal at the Wing House.
Special thanks to the hard-working Wing House restaurant and staff, Steve Hurley from Stingray Chevrolet (who has been a huge supporter of the BTLS Foundation, donating $100,000 total so far), and the PCSO deputies and other law enforcement officers who conducted traffic control along the route for the safety of the riders.
A special check presentation ceremony by the BTLS crew, Stingray Chevrolet, and PCSO staff will commence at a later date and time to be announced, to present money raised during this event to Sgt. Whitmore’s wife, Sherry.
“Bubba the Love Sponge and the foundation that he created has done so much good in the light of so much tragedy for the families of the officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and we can’t thank them enough,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “It is very humbling to know that the dangerous jobs that Florida's law enforcement officers do are appreciated and recognized by this man, his crew, and Stingray Chevrolet. On behalf of the families they took the time to pay their respects to and raise money for today, I thank them for all their support.”