For Leesburg resident Eddie O’Toole, the coming weekend will have a special meaning.
On Saturday, April 9, O’Toole is set to compete in the Baker’s Dozen Mountain Bike Race in an effort to raise awareness of the high suicide rate among law enforcement personnel. It’s an issue close to his heart, not only because he is a five-year deputy with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, but O’Toole also is a close family friend of Billy Hurley III, the PGA golfer whose father Willard Hurley, Jr., a former police officer, committed suicide last fall. It started out as a high-profile missing persons case when the elder Hurley failed to return to his Leesburg home last July. He was discovered in Texas and was said to be merely traveling but days later was discovered in his car with a fatal, self-inflicted gunshot wound.
O’Toole said suicide among law enforcement personnel is a growing concern, as officers are constantly exposed to highly stressful environments, violence and disturbing situations. Internalizing all the emotions surrounding their line of work is all too common, O’Toole said, but the nonprofit for which he is riding in support—The Badge of Life—seeks to be an arm of psychological assistance for the law enforcement community. In a nod to the typical day of a law enforcement officer, O’Toole will ride the entire 13-plus-hour race route in his LCSO uniform.
O’Toole has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money in support of his charity ride. As of Monday, he had raised more than $4,000, and said he will keep the page running even after the race is over. For more information about O’Toole or to donate, go to gofundme.com/ride-for-our-lives.