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Community tribute convoy planned to honor Burnsville fallen first responders Saturday

Friends of fallen Burnsville first responders find community in the wake of their grief
Friends of fallen Burnsville first responders find community in the wake of their grief 02:26

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — In a week of tributes for Burnsville's fallen police officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, along with fallen EMT Adam Finseth, community members are planning to pay their respects by putting their cars in drive.

A tribute convoy will leave Burnsville Center on Saturday at 11 a.m., traveling west on County Road 42 and north and east on Highway 13 before passing by Burnsville City Hall and returning to Burnsville Center. 
The multi-mile tribute was the idea of friends Austin Wacheldorf, Tucker Endres, Clint Svendsen and Brian Nicholas. At first, the group hoped to potentially have 50 people join. A Facebook event has since been shared hundreds of times. By Friday night, more than 1,000 people indicated they were interested.

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"People are messaging me left and right – can I put my car in? It's nothing fancy. I said bring it on. I encourage everyone to join," Wacheldorf said. "I actually got texts this morning from somebody from Montana and Colorado, saying we'll be on our way — the rigs are on the trailers."

Wacheldorf says anyone can join the caravan – regardless of what they drive. He says since Sunday, his group of friends has felt moved to honor the first responders in some way.

"It hits so close to home, it's like you know the people," he said.

"It was so close to home that this is scary.  This can happen to anyone at any point," Endres said. "We just want (the families) to know that we got them."

The group says since their event was posted earlier this week, local businesses have reached out to donate to the cause. Between the time the Burnsville Center lot opens at 10 a.m. Saturday and when their caravan leaves the lot, the group will collect cash donations – with a hope of raising $200,000. The money they raise will go towards Elmstrand's, Ruge's and Finseth's families.

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