CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ December 14, 2020 is a day Stone Freeman will never forget.
It was the day his father, Lt. Russell Freeman, died from COVID-19 complications.
“We’ve already had the worst days of our lives,” Freeman said. “Nothing gets worse than that.”
Russell spent nearly three decades as a correctional officer at the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI) in Cranston.
He was one of 21 first responders honored by a group of cyclists Friday during their 300-mile, three-day tour of Southern New England.
Freeman’s family watched as the Southern New England Brotherhood Ride stopped in front of the ACI to honor him. Dozens of correctional officers who worked alongside Russell stood alongside them.
“To have people lift us up on the days that we fall on our knees and we have to dust ourselves off, that’s what they’re all about,” he said. “Whether we know them or don’t know them, it’s just another testament to what this community of law enforcement can be to one another when somebody falls.”
Stone said his father made an impact on everyone he met, including his fellow officers.
“When you treat people in a way that they feel that they’re the only person in the room, this is the impact that you have,” Stone said. “My dad, no matter who it was, if he had a conversation with you it was eye contact. It was a firm handshake. It was an embrace. It was willing to make you feel like you were the center of his world in that moment.”
Prior to visiting the ACI, the cyclists were at the Cranston Fire Department honoring Captain Greg Coleman, who died of occupational cancer last February.