NORFOLK — A tracking program used by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department to locate individuals reported missing got a financial boost from the American Legion Riders of Post 925 in Norfolk.
An annual charity ride held by the motorcycle riders raised $8,217 for Project Lifesaver. The check was presented to Sheriff Brooks J. Bigwarfe on Sunday.
“Project Lifesaver is run by the Sheriff’s Association of New York state. The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office is a member of that project,” Sheriff Bigwarfe said.
The program assists in finding individuals who might be suffering from medical conditions such as disabilities, dementia or Alzheimer’s or other cognitive disorders and who have wandered away.
“We have approximately 25 individuals in the county that are members of this project so far. It has a transmitter wristband that they wear. The tracking device finds that wristband. So if they go 10 miles into the woods, we can track them with our tracking system,” he said.
Sheriff Bigwarfe said that’s part of a three-pronged ability to find individuals, along with the department’s K-9 unit and its new drone.
“Obviously, for me and my department, the safety of citizens is probably the number one goal of any police officer. This just gives us another tool to handle that. It’s three ways to find people that are lost out there. So it’s a great project, It’s been a very successful program throughout the whole state,” he said.
He said the money raised by the American Legion Riders will go a long way.
“What you guys have done with this amount of money is just shocking. I’ve never seen the amount of this donation before. So kudos to your organization. That’s so impressive,” Sheriff Bigwarfe told members of the group who had assembled for the check presentation.
He said they want to expand the program.
“If you have relatives or friends that kind of qualify for this, by all means let’s get them signed up. This is what this is about,” he said.
Sunday’s donation will assist in buying bracelets, transmitters and batteries, which have to be changed out every couple of months.
“This is not a budget line item for the county. It’s all donations. So other organizations thankfully have donated before for this. We’re down to about $2,000 in the kitty. With this product added, we’re going to be very healthy for a couple of years, so I just can’t thank you enough. The Sheriff’s Office appreciates it, but the citizens of the county, they’ll know about it and they’ll appreciate it,” Sheriff Bigwarfe said.
American Legion Riders President Thomas Morrison said they were able to raise the money through generous donations from other American Legions, Amvets posts, auxiliaries and VFW posts, as well as others.
“With everything going on in the world, we feel very, very pleased,” he said.
This was the club’s 16th annual charity ride. It began in 2005 when they were founded.
“We do one big ride every year. We had about 80 bikes this year, so that’s about our average,” Mr. Morrison said.
He said they contribute to different organizations, focusing on veterans and agencies that assist veterans. They chose Project Lifesaver this year and took to the road.
“We usually do about 100 miles,” he said.
This year, their ride took them to Amvets posts in Parishville, Potsdam and Heuvelton, Lisbon American Legion and back to the Norfolk American Legion, where they enjoy a dinner that’s part of the donation to ride and also raffles with items donated by local businesses.