HOUSTON -

It's a labor of love for the Houston Police Department bicycle relay team. They hit the road today for a week-long, 2,900-mile ride to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  

This is the 33rd year HPD officers have donated their time to raise money for the charity.

"Hot, hot, hot, just like Houston in the summer time," said rider Earl Thrash.

In the past 32 years, officers have ridden almost 73,000 miles and contributed more than $5.4 million to help improve the quality of life for those battling blood-related cancers.

"The best part is helping people who need help, raising money for cancer research,' rider Ramona Parnell said.

Departing from Discovery Green in downtown Houston Tuesday morning, the 34 officers, together with leukemia survivors and family members of survivors, began the first day of a seven-day, 2,900 mile relay to Tacoma, Washington.

"It's tough. This year is going to be especially tough because we have to get all the way to Tacoma, we have to go through part of the Rockies, that's tough but nothing compared to what anyone with any cancer not just leukemia is going through," said Marcos Betancourt.

Because of generous giving, continuing research has resulted in survival rates for the most common form of childhood leukemia rising from 4 percent in 1960 to 90 percent in 2010.
 
Last year, the relay team pedaled 2,600 miles to Portland, Maine, raising thousands of dollars.  

The HPD relay team has also ridden to Niagara Falls, Denver, San Diego and Alaska.