Boston College police officers David Creamer (left) and Thomas Devlin. The two were injured in a tear gas incident in 1988-Devlin had to be hospitalized several times as a result-but have recovered enough to ride bicycles, on and off the job. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)
Devlin has been hospitalized several times since with viral infections caused by exposure to the chemical substance.
The two officers, who often ride bicycles while on campus patrol, completed the bike course from the Rodman automobile agency in Foxboro to Mattapoisett and back in just over nine hours. That feat was made even more difficult by the duo's decision to ride on their police-model mountain bicycles, instead of the sleeker and lighter 20-speed racing models favored by most of the event's 900 participants.
"I think we took a wrong turn somewhere along the course and wound up going 106 miles before we finished," laughed Creamer, who said that each BC bike officer normally logs about 25 miles a day while riding on campus patrol.
"We were OK for the first 70 miles," added Devlin, "then we started having a pretty hard time. Thankfully, most of the last 20 miles were downhill, and the race was very well-organized with lots of help, encouragement and water stops along the way. There was no excuse to quit."
Quitting is something that has never entered Devlin's mind since he battled back from a serious lung ailment caused by hypersensitivity to the tear gas fumes. Devlin endured several lengthy terms of treatment and twice received the Last Rites when doctors feared that he might not recover.
"I thought my career was over," said Devlin. "Maybe that's why it feels so good to be able to do something like this."
"I'm always telling him to slow down," said Creamer, who also suffered gas inhalation and was injured while assisting the evacuation of students from the area of the 1988 incident.
"Both of us were sore for awhile (after the race), but you recover pretty quickly," Creamer said. "It's a good cause and it makes for a lot of fun."
Two other Boston College employees, University Dining Service Director Patricia Bando and Dining Service Human Resources Manager Beth Burns assisted in the organization of the fund-raising event that raised some $3,000 from the University community. On race day, Bando and Burns worked at water and rest stations along the 100-mile course.
"We are so proud of Tom and Dave," Bando said. "They didn't have to go out there and do the full 100 miles - there were sections with 25- and 50-mile courses. It just became a personal thing for them."
Burns noted that one of the youth charities that benefits directly from the Rodman bike-a-thon is the Massachusetts Mentoring Partnership, a program that fosters one-on-one education and life skills training for young people that was founded with the assistance of University Chancellor J. Donald Monan, SJ.
"It's a program that makes a difference in young people's lives," said Burns. "We currently have three young people who are being mentored by employees in the BC Dining Service, so it was especially exciting to see our BC guys taking part in the ride."
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