Five Military Heroes Concluding Long Road Home Project
Five military heroes are set to complete their summer-long bike ride from Ocean Shores, Wash. to Washington D.C. to raise money and awareness for veterans in need of services in the long road to transitioning back to civilian life. This week, the veterans cycle through the state of Virginia as they head toward their final destination – Washington D.C.
The 90-day bike ride, called the , started on July 15 in Ocean Shores, Wash. and has taken the veterans through 12 states, pedaling more than 4,200 miles. The veterans are raising money to fund their three-month journey and also plan to donate additional funds raised to Operation First Response, a non-profit that serves our Wounded Heroes with personal and financial needs. To date, they have raised more than ,000.
The ride concludes on Sunday, October 14 at 6:00pm with a celebration at District Architecture Center (421 7th Street NW) in Washington, D.C.
Among the veterans is 27-year-old Marie B. Tracy, also known as Marty. Following the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, she is now an openly lesbian veteran. She served in the Air Force for six years and has just returned from Afghanistan where she worked as a Logistics Advisor. In riding across the country, Marty hopes to highlight the diversity of people serving in the U.S. military, especially the LGBTQ community. In addition, she hopes to shed light on the issues LGBTQ people face while serving their country and as veterans. Marty is grateful for her ever-supportive friends and family, especially Front Runners New York.
The other U.S. veterans riding include:
- Steve Taylor (U.S. Air Force Ret., 59) was drafted to the military in 1971. He spent the next 26 years serving his country in tours as broad as the Noriega Conflict in Panama to both conflicts in Iraq. After an injury left him partially paralyzed in 2004, Steve spent many years in recovery. Taylor is a hand cyclist and lives in Denver, Col.
- Glenn Isaac Fretz (U.S. Army Ret., 41) served during Desert Storm, earning the Army Service Ribbon and The Nat’l Defense Service Medal. After an accident left him paralyzed in ’94, Glenn struggled to rebuild his life. Thanks to the support of his two children and wife who he met in Guam, he has participated in over 10 Wheelchair Games since ’02. Fretz is also a hand cyclist. Fretz currently lives in Oklahoma City.
- Ryan Creel (SSG U.S. Army Ret., 31) served as a U.S. Army Combat Photographer during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. After multiple deployments to the Middle-East, S.E. Asia and the Balkans, Ryan was diagnosed with chronic PTSD and medically retired from the U.S. Army after 13 years of honorable service. Since 2010, Creel has used cycling as a form of therapy and aims to inspire others with PTSD to overcome their challenges via exercise and peer-to-peer camaraderie. Creel lives in Pensacola, Fla.
- Colleen Bushnell (U.S. Air Force Ret., 39) served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. After MST in 2006, Colleen, a victim of military sexual trauma, experienced homelessness, PTSD, and was suicidal. Today, she is an advocate for all victims of assault and is riding to bring awareness about women in the military and single-parent veterans. She is recipient of the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and The Nat’l Defense Service Medal. Bushnell lives in Troy, New York.
Sponsors include: Team Red, White, and Blue, the official sponsor of the Long Road Home Project. Additional event sponsors include Penn Mutual, PigeonME, the American Academy of Physicians Assistants, T, Event360, Starcraft, Protect Our Defenders, Paralyzed Veterans Racing, Brackett Maps, Good Threads and .