2019 Texas Challenge Blog

April 16, 2019
     The foundation of support, healing and community that is at the heart of Project Hero was truly on
display today, the first of our 2019 Texas Challenge.

     It was simply a great day to be on the bike with Project Hero in Texas! Our 50-mile ride was the perfect way to start our journey through the Lone Star state. From the loving licks of Patrick Kelly’s wonderful service dog Perris before the start, to moving and heartfelt comments of our friends at the Austin VA all the way to the warm hospitality of supporters and friends at the City Lights Theater in Georgetown, the inaugural day of this year’s Texas Challenge was truly special.

     Fine weather (with a just a bit of wind!) accompanied us throughout the day from our start at the Austin VA through a pair of school ride-bys, a rest stop at Bicycle Sport Shop and our traditional visit to Wayne Fueling Systems for an outstanding lunch. A short ride to the hotel set us up nicely for our annual movie night at City Lights theater featuring dinner and a great movies. It’s going to be great to return to City Lights next year and see another Project Hero jersey on display in the theater lobby!

     Our group is ideally diverse and includes first-timers, experienced Challenge riders and even experienced Project Hero riders who have never been on a Challenge! The chemistry is great among our rolling family and our healing and growth is poised to improve every day. Tomorrow our 40-mile ride starts and finishes with a pair of annual Texas Challenge highlights: our annual visit to Georgetown Police and Fire Department HQ, with everyone’s not-so-secret agenda of getting our hands on some of those famous Round Rock chocolate and glazed donuts, and our finish at what promises to be another great afternoon lunch when we pay a visit to Cleo Bay Subaru in Killeen.2019 Texas Challenge


DAY 2 & 3 BLOG
April 17 & 18, 2019


     Project Hero has enjoyed two fantastic days in Texas as we continue our 2019 Texas Challenge!

     Our 50-mile journey Wednesday began in Georgetown following the annual movie night at City Lights Theater the evening before.  We enjoyed a great night at the movies, highlighted by screenings of Dumboand Shazaamand the ideal movie delicacies of pizza, popcorn and drinks.  Our gracious hosts welcomed us with a red carpet entrance and we look forward to seeing another Project Hero jersey proudly displayed in their lobby when we return next year! 

    Cool weather and cloudy skies greeted us the next morning as we left on a 40-mile ride from Georgetown on the way to Killeen.  Following our annual visit to Georgetown PD and FD Headquarters and tasty Round Rock donuts, we enjoyed a pair of inspiring ride-bys at Florence High and Middle School. Our group was aided by a nice tailwind that brought us into lunch at Cleo Bay Subaru where our good friends from the Buffalo Soldiers brought out the huge smoker and treated us to delicious bar b que.  Mayor Jose Segarra joined us and as always, Cleo Bay provided a great setting, tasty desserts and wonderful support for Project Hero.    

     The evening was highlighted by a fine dinner at the Ft. Hood Officer’s Club just before a huge rainstorm complete with hail, lightning and thunder passed over, leaving the roads wet and the air cool and fresh as we started on our trek the next morning to Ft. Hood and Waco.

    The third day of the 2019 Texas Challenge started with an experience that continues Project Hero’s tradition of giving our riders unique and memorable experiences that complement the community building and healing that is at the heart of our mission.  Our visit to Ft. Hood was truly moving as soldiers lined the roads cheering for our riders.  They honored, welcomed and celebrated us at III Corps Headquarters with a live band, speeches and our entrance featured something new: we were lead in by the Command Sergeant Major riding his son’s bike!  The entire crowd went wild with cheers as he escorted us around the circle in front of HQ.

     Following the emotional high of Fort Hood, we were elevated even more by the children, parents, teachers and leaders of Lakewood Elementary School as part of their Old Glory Days celebration.  As in years past, we were cheered by the students as we rode in and were provided a delicious lunch highlighted by hand-made signs and greetings from the students.  

     From our nation’s soldiers to our nation’s children, the day captured the amazing and wonderful spectrum of support we are privileged to experience as part of Project Hero!   

     We departed Lakewood and the sky began to darken as heavy winds began to blow.  Those Texas rollers were unforgiving as our riders struggled and fought against the headwind and some rain.  And true to their form, they kept going, kept achieving and kept helping each other, making sure everyone felt good about their achievement on the road. Our dinner at the Waco VFW was highlighted by Todd Setter’s speech about the current state of the organization and our plans for the remainder of the year an 2020.

     Our therapeutic ride through Texas continues with a 63-mile ride from Waco to Cleburne that will feature a unique new stop for Project Hero in Texas: a visit to the Hill County Cell Block Museum.  

DAY 4 & 5 BLOG
April 19 & 20, 2019

     To say the fourth day of the 2019 Texas Challenge was truly a challenge would be a huge understatement.

     High winds, scattered rain and rolling hills along the road made things difficult for us as everyone pushed themselves to their limits – and sometimes literally pushed their brothers and sisters as we rode from Waco to Cleburne.  

     The great part about the 66-mile ride was that even with the foul weather, our riders persevered! Despite the rain and wind, our route took us to one of the most interesting stops in Texas Challenge annals when we visited the Hillsboro Cell Block Museum for lunch.  Built in 1893 for just less than $23,000, the old jail gave us a fascinating look into the past of a small Texas town -- and Texas itself. With an impressive collection from the 1800s through memorabilia of Elvis and JFK and their Willie Nelson exhibit, and combined with tours of the historic cells and the 1800s church next to the museum building, it was one of those memorable experiences only Project Hero offers.

     Our ride was also highlighted by a visit to a new supporter, United Forest Products, where they went to the trouble of sweeping the parking lot so we could ride in safely.  We enjoyed drinks, snacks and the hats too, and are looking forward to visiting them again in Texas next year! Dinner was highlighted by a visit from Bob Gray, who shared his personal story of ongoing resilience and previewed his upcoming book to be released this Summer.

     The final day of the 2019 Texas Challenge was a 54-mile ride that was as tasty a culinary experience as it was a cycling adventure.  We rode to Cleburne and, as they do every year, the town came out to welcome us, flags lining the highway as we rode in and served a huge breakfast including an omelet bar, fresh fruit, pancakes and enough hash browns galore!  We were fed and feted, and rode away filled to the brim thanks to their hospitality and great food.  

     And it was a good thing we were riding, because our next stop was for lunch at Harbison Fisher. In this case, real challenge may have been working off the breakfast!  Cycling on flat roads under gorgeous blue Texas skies with a light breeze made it was one of those great days in Texas one always remembers: a day that truly paid us off for the struggles faced during those prior days on the road.  Harbison Fisher once again did not disappoint: even though it was a holiday weekend, employees came in and lined the road waving flags and cheering us.  They are even going to send us some of the Project Hero Texas Challenge t-shirts they made for the day.  It was a great visit highlighted by more great food and gracious hospitality.

     Well-fed and warmly sent off, we rode the final few miles into Dallas Ft Worth for our end of the ride pizza party and final send off.  During the week, our group had grown into a close-knit mobile family, a fitting ribbon on the gift that was the 2019 Texas Challenge.  

     We congratulate all our brothers and sisters who rode with us this year, thank our friends from the VA who were with us, and give a shout out to our great partners from Texas A&M for their support and letting us be a part of the development and launch of their First Watch Device – the FWD! --  and its new app.  

     The 2019 Texas Challenge was a success because of our sponsors and supporters, great first responders, police stations, fire departments, VFWs and American Legions who escorted and hosted us, superb volunteers, moto riders and a staff that worked tirelessly to give our riders the best experience we could deliver.  

     Project Hero once again has triumphed in Texas!  

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