Day 4: 2017 UnitedHealthcare Memorial Challenge Blog

Presented by Boeing

June 1, 2017

The fourth day of the 2017 UnitedHealthcare Memorial Challenge presented by Boeing showcased some of the unique experiences for which our program is known.
Leaving early under sunny skies, we headed to the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, the home of one of our flagship HUB programs.  Lead by Alicea, Chris and Marina, the program has helped hundreds of Veterans achieve the hope, recovery and resilience that is our hallmark.  Our arrival was cheered by VA employees waving flags and signs as we rode under a huge American flag onto the campus and took part in a ceremony that include the presentation of signed jerseys to Marina and John Brandecker, the Director of the McGuire VA Medical Center.  

Among our first time riders this year is Herbert Jones, a local resident and member of the McGuire VA program.  Herbert served three decades in the Army including two tours of Iraq and is taking part in his first Challenge Series with us this year.  Although he got his first road bike in April from Project Hero and has only been training a month for this ride, Herb has done a great job as part of the peloton this year.

“I’ve done a lot of pretty challenging things in my career and this is definitely one of the most challenging things I have ever done,” he said.  Herb is inspired by his fellow riders especially Mike Allen Stefan LeRoy.  “They have gone through some things I don’t ’know if I could overcome and its humbling to be with them. They are what this country is all about.”
As a first time rider, Herb has been “absolutely welcomed everyone, especially Joe, Jayme, Aires, Nikita and Chris: they’ve been great, pushing me and coaching me.  And Nikita is amazing: I’m three times her size and she’s still giving me a push when I need it.  They’ve all been great.”

Herb, who rides to honor the memory of his friend Randy Rosmond, an expert cyclist who passed unexpectedly from a heart attack and in support of Randy’s wife Katie, has been diagnosed with severe PTSD .  He wants his fellow Veterans to know how important it is to reach out to others when they need help. “If you have a problem you need to get involved in Project Hero,” he said.  “It saves lives.”  

An active member of the Richmond VA HUB, Herb likes the increasingly strong relationship Project Hero has with the VA.   “I love that Project Hero is connecting with the VA because there are so many people who are not connected to others when they need help. I owe my life to the folks at the Richmond VA especially Dr. Aaron Fox and Nicole Shuman: they saved my life more than once.”

“It takes courage to reach out and not make that fatal decision, and after what most Veterans have gone through, if they have survived those trials, they are strong enough to reach out.  You’ve got to make the effort to reach out and when you do good things will happen.”

His first Challenge has been a memorable experience for Herb. “My goal is to ride and finish the entire Memorial Challenge next year.  So for next year’s Challenge I’m going to train better and train differently.  I’m a big guy and am going to lose some weight too, so when I get skinny I’m going to look like John Wordin,” he said.  

Tomorrow the ride heads to Virginia Beach.

Project Hero Partners — Who make it all possible