My name is Jeff Shepard and was a police officer for 10 years and a firefighter for 7 years. I suffer from PTSD and wanted to find a way to assist others struggling with the same things that challenge me.
In July 2012 I was involved in an ambush shooting while on duty. I was attempting to stop a subject that was walking down the street to make a simple subject stop. He pulled a shotgun and attempted to shot me while I was still sitting in my patrol car. A few days after the shooting I started to have issues and I was sent to the department psychologist, where he diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I spent close to a year in therapy and was eventually able to return to work.
Then almost exactly 3 years later I had someone on the 4th of July throw an IED at my partner and I. The explosive hit me in the right leg and then exploded. It knocked me on the ground, rupturing my eardrum and giving me burns and shrapnel to my arm and face. Again my PTSD disrupted my life and about a year later I was medically retired from the police department.
This has been a really hard time during my life and I have really felt like my identity was taken from me.
From the time I joined the police department all I wanted to do was work in the traffic unit riding motors. I had a passion for riding motorcycles and wanted to be able to do that as a career. After 7 years on the force I was finally able to join the traffic motor unit.
I attended the two week motor officer training, the hardest thing that I have ever done physically and mentally, and passed on my first attempt. I hit the road on my motorcycle in the spring of 2015. I was in heaven and enjoyed going to work everyday. Then after 2 short months in the unit is when the explosion happened and my life was turned upside down.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about my condition. I realize there are so many other police officers, soldiers and first responders dealing with the same issues.
One of the biggest things for me was to find an outlet that would help with the everyday stresses, and that would provide a solution or therapy to assist me. One of the outlets I found was to get on my motorcycle and just ride. I found it very therapeutic and found that it relieved a lot of my stresses. I discovered that riding motorcycles was good therapy.
In September I meant Leslie Mayne and found out about her charity PERMISSION TO START DREAMING. Leslie was a light and had a very touching story. I was instantly drawn to her and the work that she was doing.
In December I was invited to an event where we were given the task to build a dream board. In the dream board you are asked to find things close to you or dreams that you might have. You then place them on a board and start to visual those dreams or feels coming to life.
While I was making my board I wanted to put a motorcycle on it. I wanted it to represent the way riding my motorcycle felt and how it is a form of relaxation – a way to remove myself from everyday stresses, crowded roads, and hectic situations. I could not find a photo of a motorcycle to put on my board. So I grabbed a pen and was going to write motorcycle PTSD relief to remind myself. But, when I started to write I found myself writing Leslie Mayne Motorcycles for Relief.
It was at that point I realized that I want to reach out to Leslie and find a way to organize a ride to assist others suffering from PTSD.
So that is how the idea was born! To organize a motorcycle ride for soldiers, police officers, first responders, and those dedicated to assisting them. I wanted people with a passion for riding; and give them the opportunity to leave their stress behind and connect with like-minded people
So I decided to start organizing rides to bring awareness to PTSD .