KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As America’s top cyclists prepare to compete in the streets of Knoxville in the US Pro Road Nationals, those who dedicate their lives to keeping those very streets safe are also gearing up for a cycling event like no other.

This October, close to 3,000 law enforcement officers from across the country will take part in the Police Unity Tour. The 350-mile bike ride takes officers from New Jersey to the Nation’s Capital and takes four days to complete. Its purpose, to pay tribute to those men and women who are no longer with us.

“Our motto is we ride for those who died, ” says Knoxville Police Lieutenant Tammy DeBow. DeBow is one of several officers from East Tennessee who take part in the annual bike ride along with Knox County Deputy, Sgt John Edgar.

“There’s been over 600 officers lost in the state of Tennessee over the years, and every year we will ride for an officer from Tennessee.”

However, while the first three days can definitely put a physical strain on the body, it is the fourth and final day that is trying on the emotions. “There’s 2 or 3,000 people at that memorial when we arrive,” says Edgar.

“That was probably the hardest two miles because you are very emotional. Crying. You feel the crowd,” continues DeBow.

It’s those feelings that keep the officers coming back year after year, even when their bodies say otherwise. “Every year I say I’m not going to do it,” says Edgar, “and then I realize as the time comes it’s not about me it’s about the families. Get on your bicycle and start pedalin’.”

To take part, each officer is required to raise $2,000. The money goes to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. If you would like to support “Team East Tennessee” and donate, you can monitor their Facebook page at: