San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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April 1st, 2010
Veterans’ bicycle ride to pass through San Marcos

SUBMITTED REPORT

About 140 war veterans and their supporters have registered to participate in the second annual Ride 2 Recover Texas Challenge next Tuesday.

The local community is invited to venture out to Embassy Suites and the San Marcos Conference Center on April 6 to give them a San Marcos-style welcome on their first over-night stop on their six-day, 350-mile bicycle ride from San Antonio to Arlington.

Riders will depart from the Center for the Intrepid at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio Tuesday morning, and, following back roads, they are expected to start arriving at San Marcos’ Embassy Suites via McCarty Lane around 2:30 or 3 p.m. The participating injured U.S. military veterans have turned to cycling to boost their rehabilitation and recovery efforts.

At 6 p.m., San Marcos American Legion Post 144 will host a dinner for ride participants, volunteers and supporters in the San Marcos Conference Center’s Veramendi E ballroom. The dinner program will include an official welcome to San Marcos and Hays County from Hays County Commissioner Will Conley.

The colors will be posted by San Marcos High School ROTC cadets and the pledge of allegiance will be presented by a local Boy Scout, with the national anthem sung by local veteran Alan Cameron. Co-chairs for the San Marcos dinner and program are San Marcos American Legion Post 144 Commander Tom Tvrdik and American Legion Auxiliary President Pat Murdock.

Members of the San Marcos VFW Post and Women’s Auxiliary are lending a hand. The VFW ladies will be decorating the tables for the dinner. Members of Lockhart’s American Legion Auxiliary Unit 41 will be baking cakes to serve to those attending the dinner. Seguin American Legion Auxiliary Unit 245 and Luling Unit 177 made financial contributions toward the dinner. The Auxiliary’s 10th District President Madeline Seydler will be helping with local preparations and participating in the evening’s events.

The evening’s featured entertainment will be provided by Del David and his Klassic Kountry Gold band, which includes both military and musical veterans. The band, which features David on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, plays around the area to raise funds for the Texas Veterans Assistance Program. Band members include Pat Fox on base guitar; Pete Loera on drums; Kenny Moehrig on vocals, fiddle, mandolin and lead guitar; Ted Alls on vocals and fiddle; Ronnie Stewart on rhythm guitar; Vernon Webb on vocals and rhythm guitar; John McBee on vocals and lead guitar; and Joy McBee on vocals.

The Ride 2 Recovery participants will conclude their ride in Arlington on Sunday, April 11 where a representative will throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners baseball game. In addition to San Marcos, riders will have overnight stays in Austin, Fort Hood, Waco and Cleburne before the ending ceremony at the Rangers’ game in Arlington. Other highlights along the route include school visits, welcome parades and community events sponsored by the USO and the American Legion Family.

The Ride2Recovery is produced by the Fitness Challenge Foundation, a 501C3 non-profit, in partnership with national sponsor United HealthCare, the military and VA Volunteer Services office.
The organization assists wounded warriors with mental and physical rehabilitation through bicycling. The founder of the Fitness Challenge Foundation is John Wordin, a professional cyclist and U.S. Marine Corps veteran who was a standout high school and college athlete. Wordin participated in three U.S. Olympic trials and won a bronze medal in the U.S. National Championships in 1989.

The USO and the American Legion Auxiliary will support the riders all the way with the USO Canteen providing daily rest stop support. The American Legion Riders will provide a motorcycle escort along the way and several American Legion Posts – like San Marcos Post 144 – will sponsor dinners and community events. Notable riders for portions of the ride will include U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George Casey, actor Adam Baldwin, former New York Giants’ co-captain Greg Gadson, who is a double amputee, and amputee Mike McNaughton, a national spokesman for R2R.

The “red carpet treatment” that ride participants will receive in San Marcos will begin upon their arrival at Embassy Suites San Marcos Hotel, Spa and Conference Center, thanks to Spa Botanica Director Mary Nieder. Nieder is recruiting 25-30 massage therapists to give the cyclists complementary massages. She also plans to have a few nail technicians on hand to assist with foot issues.

The riders will leave San Marcos’ Embassy Suites at 9 and 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 7, taking the IH-35 access road to Post Road, heading for Austin where they will spend their second night. They will also have overnight stays in Fort Hood, Waco and Cleburne before arriving in Arlington on April 11.

The Texas Challenge is presented by United HealthCare, one of the largest health plans in Texas providing health care access to more than two million customers statewide. The ride’s goal is to raise funds to support indoor Spinning® Recovery Labs and outdoor cycling programs at military and veterans’ administration locations around the U.S.

More information about the program is available on the organization’s website at http://ride2recovery.com.

— PAT MURDOCK

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