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Lafayette County deputy to honor veterans with a bike ride
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A Lafayette County sheriff’s deputy will try to cross Wisconsin by bicycle in three days.

On Sunday, Aug. 2, Deputy Sheriff Michael Gorham will ride from Veterans Park in Milwaukee to the Veterans Monument in Dubuque, about 200 miles.

The ride is in memory of two Southwest Wisconsin veterans, Army Sgt. Jakob Roelli of Darlington and Staff Sgt. Jesse Grindey of Hazel Green, who died during the Global War on Terror.

“What we are doing is searching out causes we believe Jakob and Jesse would have supported,” said James Johnson, one of the three cofounders of Team Lafayette, along with Gorham and Johnson’s brother, Dean. 

“I took a couple of vacation days, so I am going to have to be quick about this,” said Gorham. “It will be around 200 miles.” 

The ride will honor an additional person, Craig Runde of Cuba City, a Cuba City EMT who died earlier this year.

“We wanted to honor Craig’s memory by doing this in conjunction with a T-shirt fundraiser,” said Gorham, who added that honoring Runde are would bring attention to the sacrifices of local volunteer firefighters and EMTs. 

“There are few who answer the call in the night and they do bear a burden not seen by the general public in many ways, through personal and financial challenges,” said Gorham.

Roelli has family in law enforcement and Grindey was a military police officer and volunteer firefighter and EMT in Hazel Green. James Johnson and Gorham also served in the Army, served as police officers, and firefighters in Lafayette County. The Johnsons are Iraq War veterans. Gorham also is a Cuba City EMT.

Gorham and the Johnsons along with an ad hoc group of supporters engage in extreme sporting challenges to honor their fallen brothers. 

“It really is about them,” said Gorham. “Roelli and Grindey were two young men who loved life, their country, the family and Wisconsin where they were from. Each year we look for projects that support their ideals they stood for. By doing this we are hoping to keep their memory alive and honor their sacrifice and their families. We want people to be inspired by their lives and go out and challenge themselves.”