San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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by PAT MURDOCK

The large number of veterans of wars old and new who choose to live in San Marcos have helped make San Marcos a veteran-friendly community.

San Marcos has several active veterans service organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Vietnam Veterans Association, Am Vets, Disabled Veterans of America, American GI Forum, Hill Country Officers Association, Texas State University’s Student Veterans Alliance and probably others. Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Independence Day are all well-celebrated in the local community. Public and private schools in San Marcos actively participate in Veterans Day and Memorial Day observances and its Independence Day celebration is among the oldest local special events.

All these factors come together to make the wounded veterans-turned-cyclists who participate in the Ride 2 Recovery’s Texas Challenge particularly welcome.

More than 200 wounded U.S. veterans and support personnel participating in the Ride 2 Recovery fourth annual Texas Challenge will come rolling into San Marcos between 2 and 3 p.m. Monday, April 16, for the first top on their six-day trek to Arlington.

San Marcos is the first overnight stop for riders who will start their ride at 10 a.m. April 16 at the Center for the Intrepid at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. On the way to San Marcos, they will stop for lunch at the Marion School in Guadalupe County. The following day, they will move on toward Austin, where they will spend their second night on the road. Additional overnight stays will be at Fort Hood, Waco, Cleburne and Arlington.

This year, the riders and support crew will be staying at Country Inn and Suites, 1560 South I-35, and Comfort Suites, 104 North I-35. San Marcos American Legion and Auxiliary Post and Unit 144 will host a spaghetti dinner for the visitors at 6 p.m. at the San Marcos Activity Center, located at 501 E. Hopkins Street.

Opening ceremonies at the dinner will feature the posting of colors by the San Marcos Academy Color Guard and the national anthem sung by members of the Goodnight Junior High School Girls Choir. Scheduled to welcome guests are Hays County Judge Bert Cobb and San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero. Among the special guests at the dinner with be American Legion Auxiliary Department of Texas President Mary Waddell.

Returning to San Marcos as part of the Texas Challenge crew is Ride 2 Recovery founder and president John Wordin, along with this year’s Texas Challenge director Bruce Gustafson and Ride 2 Recovery’s chief of operations, David Haines.

Those attending the dinner will be shown the award-winning feature-length documentary titled Rebirth which combines time-lapse photography with the stories of individuals shaped by September 11, 2001. Project Rebirth executive director Caitlin Olson; Project Rebirth chairman; Tim Brown, a retired New York City firefighter who participated in the film; and Bob Gray, chief of the Arlington County, Va., Fire Department, are expected to attend the dinner and movie showing in San Marcos.

The documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2011. It is the result of a decade-long process by director Jim Whitaker and is described as “a riveting journey into living history.” It is also an act of personal witness to one of the most profound events in American history and the healing that has come in its wake.

The film’s message is expected to have special meaning to the injured veterans participating in Ride 2 Recovery, who have turned to cycling to help speed up the recovery and rehabilitation process. The duration bike riding challenges each rider physically, mentally and emotionally as they set individual goals for their trip. The physical challenge and a group experience help them learn to heal mentally and emotionally, ride organizers say.

On Tuesday, April 17, riders will all depart from the Country Inn and Suites in two groups – one at 9:15 a.m. and the second at 9:30 a.m. following a route out of town that will take them down Hunter Road to San Antonio Street, through the downtown San Marcos area, by the Texas State University campus and out on Post Road to Austin.

San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams is coordinating local escort arrangements.

The entire San Marcos community is invited to welcome the riders to San Marcos and to see them off Tuesday morning. Members of Beta Sigma Phi service sorority have volunteered to assist with dinner service and clean up for 250 at the San Marcos Activity Center. Lockhart and Luling American Legion Auxiliary Units are pitching in to provide homemade cakes for dessert. The Seguin Unit has contributed funds to help support the dinner in San Marcos. A number of American Legion and Auxiliary officials from around the area will attend, along with San Marcos and Hays County government officials.

For more information on local Ride 2 Recovery events or to see how you can get involved, call American Legion Auxiliary President Pat Murdock at 512-353-1943 or American Legion Commander Tom Tvrdik at 512-353-8443.

Ride 2 Recovery, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, helps to improve the health and wellness of injured veterans through indoor and outdoor cycling. Cycling is an important part of the recovery process because it is an activity that almost all patients with mental and physical disabilities can participate, and it helps to speed up the rehabilitation process. Funds raised support the participation of injured veterans in events as well as the purchase of necessary bikes, helmets and other technical equipment. Bikes are often custom fitted to the physical needs of each rider.

Ride 2 Recovery is produced in partnership with presenting sponsor UnitedHealthcare as well as national sponsors American Airlines, the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary, BAE Systems, Bell Helicopter, Deloitte, Department of Defense, Kenda, Hero Miles, Macy’s, MGM Resorts, Monster Energy, Shimano and the USO.

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