Alumnus embarks on crusade to honor fallen 9/11 firefighters in nationwide bike ride

Frank+Walsh+67+and+fellow+retired+and+active+firefighters+stand+in+front+of+the+Golden+Gate+Bridge+before+leaving+on+their+Bay+to+Brooklyn+bike+ride+to+commemorate+the+more+than+300+firefighters+who+died+on+9%2F11.+

Provided by Frank Walsh '67

Frank Walsh ’67 and fellow retired and active firefighters stand in front of the Golden Gate Bridge before leaving on their Bay to Brooklyn bike ride to commemorate the more than 300 firefighters who died on 9/11.

Evan Wallis '22, Staff reporter

On Monday, former Crusader Frank Walsh ’67 finally arrived home after embarking on an epic journey, traveling more than 3,500 miles on a bicycle from Santa Clara to New York to commemorate the fallen first responders of 9/11. 

Walsh, a former firefighter of 28 years with the Santa Clara Fire Department, said it all started in 2011 during a conversation with a close friend. 

 “I’ve always been kind of an adventurous soul,” Walsh said. “It started about 10 years ago when a good buddy of mine decided to do that very same ride. I always thought how cool that would have been to give it a try.” 

With this ride, the “Bay to Brooklyn,” cyclists hope to inspire others. Walsh said, “It’s a way of reminding people that things were really tough, and we pulled through it, so let’s do that again.”  

During the attacks on September 11, 2001, Walsh empathized in a way few could. His late brother, class of  ’56, was a firefighter, and his son is a fire captain now, so Walsh knew precisely what those brave men and women were going through. 

From the weight of the load they’re carrying up, to how their legs are burning on every step, and the fear that’s going through ’em, and then when you get in the heat of it, literally in the heat of it…you know what they’re experiencing. ”

— Frank Walsh '67

“From the weight of the load they’re carrying up, to how their legs are burning on every step, and the fear that’s going through ’em, and then when you get in the heat of it, literally in the heat of it…you know what they’re experiencing.” 

Reflecting on his trip, Walsh said, “It was really cool to see America at 15 miles an hour.” He saw the best and the worst areas of the U.S, from the wealthiest neighborhoods to the poorest. 

Ashley Roman, an English and Spanish teacher at Riordan, was also closely intertwined with the terrorist attacks, as she was born in Brooklyn and attended Kellenberg Memorial High School in Long Island. 

The Bay to Brooklyn group stopped for a photo with the New York skyline in the background. (Provided by Frank Walsh ’67)

“Being in New York, being so close to where it was happening, and having friends and family who worked in the World Trade Center,” Roman said, “we were just in shock.”

Her father was also a NYC police officer. He was supposed to be working that day but changed his schedule to attend an event at her school. And like many of her classmates, Roman had no idea where her father was at the time because there were no cell phones. 

“Everyone was crying,” she remarked. “If you looked in the hallway, people were literally on the ground sobbing. It was hard to see your peers break down like that, and there was nothing you could do.”

And on the other side of the nation, Jordan Davis, a sophomore at Riordan in 2001 and an RSP instructor now, expressed similar sentiments. But he also noted the supportive atmosphere his fellow Crusaders helped foster directly after the tragedy. 

“It was a reminder to live each day to the fullest,” Davis said, “and to be grateful that you’re around people who love you and in the Riordan community’s atmosphere of love and care.” 

Similarly, even with the somber tone that a ride commemorating 9/11 will inevitably have, Walsh wanted to instill the feeling of hope in the Riordan population and the country. 

“This is a great country. Even at its worst,” Walsh said. “We’ve survived many hard times, and we’ve come out strong afterward, and if you’re starting to feel down about what’s happening around you, don’t. Feel positive. This is still a great country…greater than ever.”