Two surviving family members of fallen law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty and some of Athens-Clarke County Police Department’s finest will join thousands of other bicyclists from across the country to ride in the 2015 Police Unity Tour.

The Police Unity Tour is an annual fundraising event in which law enforcement joins together with survivors of fallen law enforcement officers to bicycle 250 miles to Washington D.C. to kickoff National Police Week. The purpose of the ride is to raise awareness of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, and to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum. The motto of the Police Unity Tour is “We Ride for Those Who Died.”

Melissa Christian, the surviving wife of Officer Buddy Christian, is riding for her fourth year in a row. Riding alongside Christian will be Gayle Hanson, a retired Dekalb County Police Officer and the surviving mother of fallen Detective Shane Wilson. Christian and Hanson will be accompanied by a contingent of volunteers from the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.  David Griffeth, Mark Heath, and Katie Thornton will also ride the Tour on bicycles. Courtney Gale will provide logistical support. Don Eckert and Joe Geiger will escort the Tour on their motorcycles.

Collectively they will form Team Buddy Christian Foundation, and they have pledged to raise $10,000 for the Police Unity Tour. The proceeds they raise will go to support the operation of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum which receives no government funding.

In addition to Buddy Christian and Shane Wilson, the team will be riding to honor the four Georgia officers killed in the line of duty in 2014: Police Officer Noel Lee Hawk, Eatonton Police Department; Deputy Sheriff Steven LaCruz “Cruz” Thomas, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; Police Officer Kevin Dorian Jordan, Griffin Police Department; and Deputy Sheriff Michael Norris, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

“Each rider wears a bracelet that has the name of the officer they are riding for engraved on it,” Melissa Christian said. “Once the riders reach the police memorial wall in D.C., they present the fallen officer’s family with the bracelet as a testament that their officer will never be forgotten.”

The public can donate online at to help the riders in their quest to raise the $10,000 they have pledged to support the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum.


If you would like more information about this press release, or to schedule an interview, please contact Melissa Christian at 502/694-2370 or