This summer Fredonia, Texas had the honor of meeting members of the Ride for Heroes team. This team traveled from St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California stopping over in different communities to bring attention to our severely injured troops. They would not accept any monetary donations except for a web site at www.rideforheroes.stayclassy.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/semperfi.rideforheroes . These funds help families left by spousal injury or loss of life. These heroes were invited to park their RV (used for overnight rest) at the home of Georga & Milton Miller (some of Fredonia’s newest residents). The side of their RV displays a map of their travels. The following is our heroes’’ story.
“My brother-in-law, John Gerlaugh, my friend, Troy McLeheny, a new friend, Ben Maenza, and I rode across the United States on recumbent trikes in the summer of 2012 to raise awareness and funds for our country’s wounded veterans. Although we road specifically for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, we also road to support and provide visibility for all of America’s veterans.
John and I became interested in sponsoring a fund raising event for the Semper Fi Fund when we and our wives attended an awareness dinner on the USS Intrepid in New York City in 2011. We met several severely injured Marines and their families, and were completely inspired by their positive “Can Do, Don’t Pity Me” attitude. We left that evening with an increased desire to do more to actively support our nation’s war wounded and their families.
To put an action to our desire to do more, John and I re-scoped a “bucket list” event we had planned (a bike ride across the US) as a fund raiser for the Semper Fi Fund. We plan to depart on this cross-country fund-raiser in June of 2012, starting in St Augustine, Florida, riding west across the southern US, and arriving in San Diego, California, two months later in August.
Troy joined us in our efforts as soon as he heard about our plans, and Ben joined us soon after we met him at the 2012 Semper Fi Fund awareness dinner in March. We’re absolutely stoked to have this team put together and are looking forward to the ride of our lives! We are all also supported in this endeavor by our families and friends who are also devoted to this very important cause. We have received “in kind” support from our friends, Charlotte Mecklenburg Republican Women (a US Flag and Stand), Aaron’s Quality Signs in Matthews NC (beautiful decals promoting the ride on the Advance Vehicle), and “Doc” Gerlaugh (a much-appreciated sunshade cover for John’s trike)! Thank you to ALL of our supporters!
We all are extremely excited about this opportunity to give to those who have given so much of themselves. The Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund is a fantastic partner in our effort to give as much as possible back to our heroes — in fact, CharityNavigator.com rates IMSFF their top 4 out of 4 stars. So do we!”
More about me: I am a 1986 graduate of Texas A&M University, and have been the owner of McLaughlin Erectors, Incorporated (http://www.skylightrepairs.com/), a skylight installation and repair company, in Kemah, Texas, for 26 years. I am a Proud American and am the son of SSgt Paul (Mac) McLaughlin, a Proud 1940s-era U.S. Marine. I call Friendswood, Texas, “Home”, and my efforts in support of the Semper Fi Fund are strongly encouraged by my wife Rene and family members Leigh, Dallas, Brooke, and Cory. Having been an athlete all of my life, at 62, I very much look forward to riding across America in honor of those who have given everything to enable all of us to live our dreams.
More about John: John is riding for the Semper Fi fund as a former Marine Corps Officer and longtime Defense Department employee. He and his wife Donna live in Northern Virginia and he has served in both Iraq as a Stability Advisor and as a Political Officer in Afghanistan. During his 2007-2008 tour of duty in Iraq he was honored to have served in support of the Third Battalion Seventh Marines as a member of the PRT at Camp Blue Diamond in Al Anbar Province. In 2010 he served as a civilian advisor to the Seventh Marines and later for a short time with the First Marines in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. John’s wife and brother are also retired Marine Officers and they all continue to actively support the national defense mission. John’s current assignment is teaching national security strategy at the National Defense University (http://www.ndu.edu/).
More about Troy: Troy was born in 1968 in Beaumont, Texas, and enlisted in the Marine Corps 1987. He served with the 2nd MAW in Cherry Point ,NC, and is a veteran of Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Troy left the Marines in 1992 as a Sergeant and became a police officer in Beaumont, Texas. He now owns and operates numerous bail bond companies in Texas. Troy is the first new team member to join our Ride for Heroes and will ride the whole way with us on his Catrike.
More about Ben: Ben is a medically-retired Marine Corps Lance Corporal combat engineer, previously attached to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, serving in Afghanistan. He is a direct beneficiary of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund – but his injuries have not dimmed his spirit, and he and thousands like him embody the reason we ride!
You can find out more about these men and their trip at the above web sites.