Current status: Colorado Springs, CO. Two more wakeups remain until I finally face the Rocky Mountains and I AM READY. Gear and bicycle are fine-tuned, the route is set, and my spirits are high. 2,400 miles under my belt and 2,000 miles remaining. 3 more states and one more time zone. The line up includes the Rockies, Desert, Sierra Nevadas, and onto the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.
As June 2nd grows closer, I find myself reflecting on the organizations and people that not only helped make the continuation of my journey possible, but reinforced and solidified the positive mindset I’ve been clinging to since my accident last year.
In late January, I was linked up with Steven Beck, Founder of A Ride for the Wounded, through our mutual military friend, Major Cory Kline. This Kansas City based non-profit was born to better Veterans’ lives and support their missions by hosting Charity Motorcycle Rides and Events on their behalf. This year, they chose A Vicious Cycle as one of their recipients! It was an incredible experience, working with Steven and his organization…
Our Motorcycle Event (We Ride!) took place on April 21st, beginning in Nashville and finishing 90 miles east in Cookeville, TN at The Wall That Heals; Traveling Vietnam Wall. I met with Fox 17 Nashville on site and was able to gift a Vietnam Veteran the rose that I received at my Welcome Home ceremony from Iraq back in 2005. View segment:
The impact of this indescribable day certainly fanned the flames that have been building inside of me. I was overcome with emotion and gratitude for both the massive effort put forth on my behalf by A Ride for the Wounded, as well as the abundance of bikers that participated in support of my vision and mission. Breathtaking.
The last few months, I’ve been traveling to Tennessee VFWs to discuss my bicycle journey and the story behind A Vicious Cycle and I could not have received a warmer welcome. The VFW and its members have shown me an enormous amount of encouragement and support, both on a local, district, and national level.
In early May, I was notified that VFW National decided to issue me a grant toward both the completion of A Vicious Cycle and to help kickstart Waypoint Vets, the program I’ve founded and am launching upon my return this fall. It will afford other Veterans opportunities to detach and unite through nature based outings and social activities. I now know first hand how much healing can happen out there. Needless to say: goosebumps and tears. It’s happening.
I’ve had the honor of speaking to American Legions, AmVets, Legion Riders, Rolling Thunder, Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, and other incredibly supportive groups and clubs. It’s incredible what can happen when you surround yourself with people who recognize that your intentions are pure, your vision is clear, and drive and execution will be formidable and organized. I am adamant about making a real difference for my fellow Veterans going forward. Period.
In preparation for my departure, my military family really stepped up during training. SFC Masaitis drove from Cleveland, OH to Nashville for two weeks to kickstart my training and get my mind right. At 6’6″, 255 lbs, this hurricane of a human being infiltrated my comfort zones and helped remind me that despite pain or injury, I am still a force to be reckoned with. My Army Infantry friends SFC Nunn and 1SG Steward had me back on their radio show, Stew & the Nunn (Watch Segment). My brothers and sisters from across the branches stepped up and joined me in conditioning for my mission.
A special thank you is in order for my good friend Robb (DJ Worm). He is a radio personality for Rock 106 out of Monroe, LA and a professional DJ. Robb organized a fundraising event on my behalf where contestants challenged him to a game of Name That Tune. …and no night is complete until you are “fireman’s carried” out of the venue by another woman, haha.
On my way to Colorado, I stopped in Kansas City, KS, where I met with ABC News Channel 9 to discuss the importance of post-war healing, winning the war inside, and finishing what you start. We interviewed at the National WWI Memorial downtown – a powerful and one of a kind landmark that I was honored to visit. The segment aires on June 1st: View Segment
While in Kansas City, I was able to link up with Daniel (founder) and Mark from Team Fidelis, enjoy time with the members of A Ride For The Wounded, and visit my local friends. We toured the National WWI Museum, visited a few Veteran Memorials, and said our goodbyes at iHop.
On May 21st, I left Kansas City for Pueblo, CO, where I dropped off my bicycle at Great Divide Bike Shop. The owner, Lee, and his staff gave it a thorough once over and Sam, who works at Great Divide, posed for a selfie with Bambi. Sam also organized a 7-mile bicycle ride when I got into Pueblo that visited each of the Veteran Memorials as well as an escort for our first day back! Incredible.
It’s been awesome being back in Colorado Springs. Familiar views were quick to steal my gaze and both new and familiar faces were eager to warm my heart… I couldn’t ask for more generous, thoughtful, and uplifting people to surround myself with before setting out back on this journey…
I’ve been house and dog sitting for a Navy Veteran, who is one of the members / medics of Team Rubicon that helped me last year. Such a relaxing escape to come back to after training each day… Having the right people behind you makes moving forward easy.
Time to head back to Pueblo and mentally clip in. Day 1 will be 51 miles to Canon City with a stop in Wetmore… Saturday, June 2nd, 2018 at 0800 is just around the corner – and as I said the night before I set out last year: the only thing left to do is to start. #ArmyStrong #HonorTheFallen #FinishWhatYouStart
// NOTHING FOLLOWS //