In 1971 Larry Gentry and his partner responded to a call of a suicidal subject. When the officers approached the suicidal subject, that subject had his arms folded across his chest, with his head down. Unknown to the officers, was that the subject was armed with a knife.
Suddenly, the suicidal subject lunged at Larry with that knife. The subject then plunged the knife into Larry’s chest, striking his heart. Knowing that seconds counted, his partner didn’t wait for an ambulance to arrive. He immediately grabbed Larry and carried him to their patrol vehicle. He rushed him to a nearby hospital where they were met by a medical intern. That intern placed his hand into Larry’s chest to hold-off the bleeding, until a heart surgeon could arrive. Larry underwent emergency surgery. Doctors worked feverishly to save his life.
While on the operating table, his heart stopped. Doctors feared that Larry would die. However, the doctors were eventually able to regain a pulse. Moments later, Larry’s heart stopped again. Doctors again worked feverishly to get his heart pumping, and were successful. While on the operating table, Larry’s heart stopped a number of other times. Miraculously, after each stoppage of his heart, doctors were able to regain a pulse. However, each time his heart stopped, his brain was being deprived of valuable oxygen. Doctors were finally able to keep his heart beating. He was in grave condition…but he was alive.
While recuperating, doctors learned that because of the loss of blood to his brain due to his heart stopping so many times, that he had suffered severe brain damage. The brain damage severely diminished his motor skills. His balance would be affected and his speech would be significantly slowed. After a lengthy recuperation period, he eventually returned to the Warren Police Department, where he assisted in the Property Room. However, continued physical therapy would be a way of life for Larry.
One form of Physical Therapy that Larry undertook was bicycling. Even with his diminished motor skills, he found that bicycling was great therapy, as well as great exercise. As he continued to bike, he found that his stamina was building and he could ride for longer times and longer distances. In 1989, he approached the membership of Fraternal Order of Police, Warren Lodge #124 and asked for the Lodge’s assistance to undertake a cross-state bicycle ride to raise money for charity. The Lodge offered seed money to get the project underway. A riding partner volunteered and a support crew was established.
In June of 1990, the first Gentry’s Journey got underway. Larry and his cast of characters started their first ride in St. Joseph / Benton Harbor with the rear wheels of their bikes actually in the waters of Lake Michigan. Four days later, they arrived at the State Convention of the Fraternal Order of Police in Novi. In 1991, Gentry’s Journey started in Sault Saint Marie and four days later arrived at the Fraternal Order of Police State Convention in Grand Rapids. Riding along with him was one survivor, as well as two police officers. Then, in 1992, the third edition of Gentry’s Journey began again in St. Joseph / Benton Harbor, and traveled to the Fraternal Order of Police State Convention in Saginaw / Bay City. Riding along with him on this trip were two survivors and two police officers. That turned out to be the last cross-state run of Gentry’s Journey. In the following years, Gentry’s Journey has been held locally in the Metro-Detroit Area. Now, instead of a few survivors and police officers riding with him, dozens of survivors and police officers ride along in Gentry’s Journey. The trip now goes from Metropolitan Beach in Harrison Township to Sterling Heights and back.
In all of the years that Gentry’s Journey has been in existence, it has raised tens of thousands of dollars for MI-COPS. But more importantly, it has created a way of fellowship and support for dozens of survivors and law enforcement officers.