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A Ride to Remember: Rockford man bikes 157 miles to honor 20 years since brother was killed

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Inspiring 815 Elmer Rice Web Pic

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Elmer Rice has biked around Rockford for the better part of 22 years.

He enjoys being able to exercise his body but also clear his mind.

"Get some fresh air, listen to music and take in the scenery," Rice said.

Biking is also a workout of pride for Rice.

No matter how high the hill in front of him or how tired he may be, he will always push forward.

"I make it a point that I never ever get off and push my bike. I don't walk it up the hill, Rice said. "It may take me a little bit longer to get up the hill, but I'm going to pedal the entire time."

Though he doesn't need it, Rice rode with a different motivation over the last week.

On Sunday, July 24, Rice took to Facebook to announce a challenge he was issuing to himself.

Ride 157 miles before Tuesday, August 3.

While this may seem random out of context, the mileage and date are very significant to Rice.

157 is the badge number of Elmer's brother, Kevin Rice, when he was with the Rockford Police Department.

August 3 is the day Kevin was shot and killed off duty while investigating a suspicious person in his sister's neighborhood.

This year marks 20 years since Kevin's murder.

"Not only is he a cop but he's also my big brother, we were 15 months apart. He was a father, husband, son, cousin," Rice said.

"Just a way to pay tribute and honor my brother and recognize the sacrifice and everything he's done for the community,"

As Elmer began his journey, he mapped out different stops to make each day that were significant to Kevin.

Everything from their childhood home and church to a number of memorials built in Kevin's honor spread across Rockford.

However, there was one stop Elmer was hesitant to make.

Hoban Avenue.

That's the street Kevin was killed on 20 years ago.

Ultimately, Elmer did ride to what was his brother's murder scene and it brought up many emotions.

"I felt a certain numbness, a certain emptiness because I knew what happened," Rice said. "It was a challenge but I feel it was something I had to do and I'm glad that I did it."

Elmer completed his challenge Sunday, August 1.

Before he finished, Elmer described what hitting mile 157 will mean for him.

Here's what he had to say.

"I'm going to feel probably a great sense of relief. I'm going to feel cathartic, like I accomplished something for my brother," Rice said.

"Just say 'I did it for you brother. I love you. I did it for you. I'm proud of you, I love you and I miss you.'"

Elmer invites and encourages anyone to show their own support for Kevin by doing something surrounding #157.

If you know of anyone else touching out hearts here at home, you can fill out a nomination form here or you can email eleake@wrex.com.

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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