HOUSTON -- Nearly three dozen Houston police officers and their friends are now pedaling to Tacoma, Washington.

They are riding to raise money that could one day cure leukemia and lymphoma.

We are out to destroy this disease, said Lt. Randall Upton with the Houston Police Department.

Their eight-day journey began at Discovery Green Tuesday morning and took their service and commitment to a whole new level.

All of the people that are suffering with cancer, you know, I m sure that they wish that they could be out here riding with us, Sgt. Ramona Parnell said. I m just glad that I could do this for them.

She said she will be riding in memory of her sister, Lauren Parnell Dennis, who died of lung cancer in 2006.

The department has held the annual relay-style ride for more than 30 years and traveled to places like Maine and Alaska. Participants must each raise at least $5,000.

Gilbert Garcia said he does not dwell on the length of the trip.

You just got to ride, he said. Like when you go up hills, you don t look at your destination. You just peddle.

The sendoff included the 8-year-old artist who helped design the team s jerseys this year and an HPD employee named Lucinda Owens. Both are battling leukemia.

Their names are among many etched on special dog tags that riders will be wearing over the course of the trip.

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