Archive for Sunday, June 19, 2005

Veterans roll into town on quest to raise $5M for wounded soldiers

June 19, 2005

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It's been a little more than a year since Wichita native Lonnie Moore lost much of his right leg when a rocket-propelled grenade smashed through his Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Iraq.

Saturday, with his leg amputated just above the knee, Moore, 29, rode his bicycle into Lawrence as part of Soldier Ride, a project to raise money for wounded soldiers and their families.

"Every day wounded soldiers are coming back, and I think people tend to forget," Moore said. "This is just something to help them normalize their lives."

Moore was among more than a dozen bike riders - many of them veterans who were once wounded themselves - who rode into town from Manhattan. They are being led by Chris Carney, a Montauk, Long Island, N.Y., bartender who is taking them on a cross-country trip to increase awareness and raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.


Heath Calhoun rolls into the parking lot of the stopping point of Saturday's ride at the Kansas Army National Guard office, 2223 La. He and other Iraq War veterans are cycling across the country to raise money for those severely injured in the war. Calhoun, one of the members of the group who is missing both of his legs, said Saturday's 50 or 60 miles was considered an easy day for the group, which has gone as far as 120 miles in one day.

Heath Calhoun rolls into the parking lot of the stopping point of Saturday's ride at the Kansas Army National Guard office, 2223 La. He and other Iraq War veterans are cycling across the country to raise money for those severely injured in the war. Calhoun, one of the members of the group who is missing both of his legs, said Saturday's 50 or 60 miles was considered an easy day for the group, which has gone as far as 120 miles in one day.

Wounded Warrior is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting the new generation of wounded service personnel. It was started in the early 1990s by a wounded Marine.

Carney actually conducted a cross-country bike ride last year in an effort to help raise money for a friend who had been wounded. His effort caught on and he decided to do it again this year. The trip began May 21 in Los Angeles and is expected to conclude July 19 in Montauk.

"We're just trying to get everybody to know that if they want to send more than their hearts and prayers there is a place where they can do that," Carney said.

Last year the cross-country ride brought in $2 million. This year's goal is to raise $5 million.

About 35 cyclists are taking part in the project. Not all will necessarily ride the entire cross-country length. Moore, a Kansas State University graduate who is still a captain with the Army's First Infantry Division, joined up with the riders in Manhattan.

Lindsey Kelly, Prescott Valley, Ariz., gives her husband, Ryan, a kiss after his arrival at the Kansas Army National Guard office, 2223 La.

Lindsey Kelly, Prescott Valley, Ariz., gives her husband, Ryan, a kiss after his arrival at the Kansas Army National Guard office, 2223 La.

Others, such as Heath Calhoun, a double amputee, is going all the way across the country on a bike specially adapted to his needs. Calhoun lost his legs above the knees in November 2003 when a rocket-propelled grenade struck the back of a truck he was riding in while in Iraq. He was serving with the 101st Airborne Division.

Calhoun said the riders were getting a good response from the public, but he agreed that people were starting to put the war at the back of their minds.

"But Americans, they love their soldiers and they want to help," he said.


A group of Iraq War veterans bike down Massachusetts Street Saturday afternoon. Their cross-country ride is part of an effort to raise money for wounded soldiers.

A group of Iraq War veterans bike down Massachusetts Street Saturday afternoon. Their cross-country ride is part of an effort to raise money for wounded soldiers.

The money will be used to pay for families to travel to hospitals where their loved ones are being treated after they return from a war zone. It also could be used to pay for hotel rooms. In addition, the money pays for "comfort packs," which are given to the wounded veterans. The packages contain toiletries, a CD player and telephone cards, among other things.

The money also is used to pay for things beyond what military and government funds pay for.

"The government has great benefits and great support, but unfortunately those funds only go so far," Moore said. "The government does a good job, but it's our job as American citizens to take the next step."

The bike riders, with support trucks, stopped at the Army National Guard recruiting office to meet local military personnel, the public and the media. They ride on to the Kansas City area this morning.

To donate to Wounded Warrior, visit the Web site, www.soldierride.com,, or call 1-866-RIDE-GI1, or 1-866-743-3441.

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