April 20, 2018
For Project Hero’s fifth day in Texas, we traveled 67 miles from Waco to Cleburne, a route that took us through the beautiful countryside of Central Texas and gave us ideal ride for our penultimate day of the Challenge.
Texas is famous for their patriotism and nowhere is that more displayed than with the school children. The first school of the day was a ride-by at Aquila Elementary followed by a visit to Whitney Elementary School and then had a wonderful lunch at Whitney High School delivered by the American Red Cross.
Our next stop was at Rio Vista School District, which is always a Texas Challenge favorite. The wonderful support from the students and faculty, the marching band playing great music and the outstanding rendition of the national anthem by Amy, a 7th grader. Principal Tony Martin, an Army veteran, and School Superintended Tim Wright, who thanked everyone for their service and explained to the students why it was so important.
Connie Rendon served our nation as an Army reservist for 17 years and was injured by an IED during deployment in 2004. A resident of Corpus Christi, she is riding her first Texas Challenge and hopes to ride the Memorial Challenge.
“It’s gone fast,” she said. “The Austin hills and descent was hard because I had been using one brake due to my injury, but the mechanics did a really good job on my brakes by putting a splicer on the cable that allows one lever to activate both of my brakes now. It hasn’t been much of a problem.
“Yesterday I was in Delta but they left, so I ended up riding with Group 2. I made it all the way to the last four miles but I go to the point where I was done. But Michael (Manning) and Todd (Setter) wouldn’t let me fail. They didn’t push me and they were coaching me all the way. Michael said “come grab my wheel” and Todd said, “No don’t stop! Keep spinning. I still see more in you. Keep going!” And we made it all the way. It was awesome.”
Connie got involved with Project Hero after connecting with our good friend Wayne Stetina, who provided Di2 shifting system and sage advice to join Project Hero. Her first experience with us was our Women’s Initiative 2016.
“It was great because I got to learn how to learn to break down my bike and work on the mechanical side,” she said. “They were going to amputate my hands and now I can do it myself. It’s a feeling of independence. I don’t have to ask or pay do it. I even bought my own box!”
Connie celebrated her 29th wedding anniversary today and is a now believer in Project Hero.
“It’s an organization that will help you succeed,” she said. “I used think that my injury was the end of the world but when you see other people who have even worse situations it makes you realize you are not the only one. When you think are down here, they’ll make you feel you are up there. You always think you have it worse than anyone else, but there is always someone else who has it worse than you.”
Her message for other Veterans who have to overcome personal challenges and injury like her is simple.
“I have had 48 surgeries and got off medications thanks to R2R and PH. It has really helped me” she said. “Reach out, you are not alone. It’s not the end of the world, there’s help out there.”
The 2018 UnitedHealthcare Texas Challenge comes to a close tomorrow with a 67-mile ride into Dallas Ft. Worth. We will be joined by Texas Rangers pitcher Matt Moore, who will join us for the ride into Ft. Worth in support of his Strike Out PTSD campaign for Project Hero and will enjoy a closing celebration at Bell.
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