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Spirit of lost colleague powers Telford cyclists across Texas

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Trip raises funds for Correctional Peace Officers Foundation
Spirit of lost colleague powers Telford cyclists across Texas

Three cyclists riding on the highway
John Delavan, front, leads Telford Unit Senior Warden John Rupert and Major Jeff Catoe on a stretch of highway between Kermit and Lamesa. The three rode 815 miles from El Paso to New Boston in May in memory of Delavan’s son, Sgt. Charles Delavan, who was killed while training for the cross-country trip. The trip also raised funds to benefit the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation.
Photos courtesy of Telford Unit
It was the ride of a lifetime for two Telford Unit cyclists who rode in memory of a unit colleague who lost his life while training for the very same trek across Texas.

Over seven days in May, Senior Warden John Rupert and Major Jeffery Catoe of the Telford Unit in New Boston pedaled the 815 miles from El Paso to New Boston with Sgt.Charles Delavan in mind each and every mile of the route. It had been Delavan’s idea to make the cross-country trip to raise funds for the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation. But, sadly, a speeding vehicle struck and killed the 34-year-old former professional junior cyclist on April 23 as he was finishing up a training session on a bike he had recently bought for the Trans-Texas trip.

“He had been out riding 40 to 50 miles and he was coming back in about two miles from his house when he was hit,” Rupert said. “They still haven’t identified who did it. They didn’t stop.”

Rupert and Catoe first thought of abandoning the trip when they got word of the tragedy.

“Delavan was by far the strongest rider of the bunch,” Rupert said. “Our original thought on the day we found out was not to do it because he was the leader of the ride. But by the end of that first day we had come to the conclusion that that just wouldn’t be right. He wouldn’t have wanted it that way. His spirit was to keep working and persevere. So that’s what we did.”

On May 18 the two riders, joined by Delavan’s father John Delavan, drove to El Paso and started their long journey with a send-off from the staff at the Sanchez State Jail the next day. Averaging approximately 115 miles a day,the two made further stops in Pine Springs, Kermit, Lamesa, Anson, Jacksboro, and Bonham before finally reaching New Boston on the afternoon of May 25. They said they felt the presence of their colleague riding alongside them and cheering them on through-out the trip.

“There were days when it was hard to get on the bicycle and it was hard to keep riding, but I think the spirit of wanting to do it for him kept us pedaling,” Rupert said. “He was definitely there with us in spirit.”

Rupert and Catoe started training for the ride in earnest in January. It was the farthest they had been on a bike over such a short period.

“I’d ridden 100 miles in a day before, but I’d never done it seven consecutive days,” Rupert said. “The farthest Major Cole had ridden was about 50 miles, so we kind of rode ourselves into shape from an endurance standpoint.”

While the trip raised several thousand dollars for the CPOF, to the two cyclists it was much more than a fundraiser.

“It wasn’t so much about the ride after Sgt. Delavan’s death,” Rupert said. “It was about him.”

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