TEXAS, USA — Michael Gomez was once a parademic, on the front lines of tragedies and emergencies.
After the Sutherland Springs church shooting in 2017, however, his career as a paremedic came to an end due to the tragic nature of the shooting.
"I didn't reach out. I didn't try and get any kind of help. I didn't talk to anybody about it. So I just kind of kept it inside.. and just, anger grew and grew," said Gomez.
After the El Paso shooting that left over 20 dead, Gomez came up with the idea of a statewide tour to show support to a community in need.
Gomez took a Texas flag, revved up his Harley motorcycle named Bonnie, and took off on a tour of Texas-starting with his own town, Sutherland Springs, that was rocked by such a similar tragedy.
"This puts you in a group, a group so small that none of us have asked to be a part of, you know, and then we have to deal with that, you know, for the rest of our careers and our lives," Gomez said.
The tour, named the Ride to Heal, involves collecting signatures on the flags from first responders around the state. These flags will then be delivered to first responders in El Paso.
Shannon James was a 9-1-1 dispatcher in Wilson County and was on duty answering emergency calls when the Sutherland Springs shooting happened. She supports Gomez's cause and is happy to let El Paso first responders know they have a strong support base behind them.
"This is definitely a good idea to show the communities that hey we stick together when tragedies happen and we're still going to be here no matter what," James said.
Word of Gomez's efforts has started to spread, and other states like Arizona have even sent their own flags signed by first responders. Gomez expects more support to come in the following days.
The Ride to Heal will run August 17 through August 23 and make eight stops. Riders will start in Corpus Christi and end at the El Paso Walmart.
Gomez and his fellow riders will stop in Odessa and Fort Stockton on August 22, the last two stops before El Paso. However, the group has been unable to find a place to host the Odessa gathering.
If you would like to learn more about the journey and what you can do to help these riders show their support you can visit the Facebook event page.