How often does the Illinois State Police (ISP) completely shut down the interstate? The answer is pretty much never. The only time it’s ever done is for the President of the United States. That and once a year for The Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation (ISPHF) Motorcycle and Fun Car Run. For the entire run every road, on ramp and intersection is completely blocked from the public as the procession makes its way on the 200 mile journey down to the IL. Capital city.
This run benefits the Illinois State Police Memorial Park. The ISPHF Motorcycle and Fun Car Run is the one time each year when the ISP shuts down the roads to honor their fallen brothers. The ISPHF Fun Run couldn’t be for a better cause. More than 65 ISP officers have given the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the citizens of Illinois. The planned Memorial Park will serve as a place of peace and comfort for those who have lost a family member or friend. It will also serve as a public gathering site for visitors to remember the brave heroes.
The Bluesmobile FOLLOWING a Police Procession
My involvement started when I received a request from my friend Jack Garcia, the Chairman of the ISP Memorial Park. He asked me to bring out the Bluesmobile for the run. The first thing I asked was if they wanted to chase me down to Springfield. He respectfully declined my generous proposition but he did offer me the next best thing. He told me he wanted the Bluesmobile directly behind the 20 Officers of the Police Motorcycle Motorcade and lead all of the participants on the run. Not my first choice, but I’ll take it!
The Blues Brothers Honor The Fallen Heroes of the IL. State Police
On July 15th, the run started at District 15 Headquarters in Downer’s Grove. With me dressed as Elwood in my black suit and friend Ben Clarke filling in as Jake, we arrived to a warm welcome from the ISP Officers. The parking lot was filled with motorcycles of all types and a sense of comradery filled the air.
After a tribute to the fallen officers of the ISP, we were all blessed by the ISP Chaplain while leaving the District 15 Headquarters. We made our way onto 355 South heading down to the first stop in Dwight IL. As we got on the interstate there wasn’t a car in site. I looked in my rearview mirror to see IDOT trucks blocking the entire road holding all the traffic back. What a site to behold!
Running with the Top Illinois Officials
The Bluesmobile got some serious preferential treatment. We were driving directly behind the Police Motorcade. Right behind us was Jack Garcia and Leo Schmitz, the Director of the IL State Police along with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. We were truly running with the highest powers in Illinois on closed roads for the next 200 miles!
After a stop in Dwight Illinois to meet up with some more riders, we took Old Route 66 on our way down to Chuck’s Harley Davidson in Bloomington where a free lunch awaited us. After a bite to eat and many more pictures with participants and the Bluesmobile, we headed off to our final destination, Troopers Lodge 41 in Springfield.
A Successful Day for the ISPHF Fun Run
When we arrived at the ISP Troopers Lodge 41 cold drinks and dinner awaited us upon our arrival. The was a raffle and a silent auction as well. In total $50k was raised for the ISP Memorial Park.
“The entire Memorial Park Committee which is made up of Active and retired Officers as well as civilian ISP employees and volunteers. All members of the Park project are volunteers and 100% of all donations go toward the project. This project would not be possible without the generosity of our Architect, donors, and volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure our fallen ISP officers and their families are never forgotten.” stated Chairman Jack Garcia.
10th Running Draws A Record Crowd
For this 10th anniversary of the ISPHF Fun Run over 400 motorcycles and a handful of cars made for a procession over 1 mile long. They even had the Illinois State Police plane overhead getting aerial shots. It was truly one of the greatest experiences to be part of such a special day.
My Thoughts on the ISPHF Fun Run
Overall it was an incredible experience, one of the best I’ve had in a vehicle. The whole event was run very well. An immense amount of preparation and planning goes into this ride every year and it shows. Coordinating with local and county Police who helped out along the way along with their very own IL State Troopers made everything go off without a hitch with military like precision. It’s an event I’ll be sure to attend every year from here on out!
Photo gallery thanks to Kyle Sulkar – @kyrocreative