March 5, 2018
UnitedHealthcare Gulf Coast Challenge - Day 1 Blog
Riding under gorgeous blue Florida Sunshine skies, we began our day at the Florida State Capital building in Tallahassee, where we were joined by General Paul Chauncey of the Florida National Guard, members of the Leon County School leadership including Superintendent Rocky Hanna and Governor Rick Scott.
We departed the Capital to our first stop at Fort Braden Elementary School. The students lined the driveway as we rode through a colorful display of patriotic signs and flags. It was a truly moving display of support and enthusiasm for America’s Finest as students met our Project Hero riders. Our visit was also highlighted by a donation to Project Hero by the school.
The day concluded with dinner at Florida State University Panama City campus hosted by the Student Government Council, student body President Justine Powell and Dr. Urban Clark, Associate Dean of the University.
These rides are famous for the great camaraderie and healing. These events also provide opportunities for new riders to be welcomed into our Project Hero family. One of our first-time riders at the UnitedHealthcare Gulf Coast Challenge this year is Frankie Reilly, an Air Force veteran with 24 years of service. A Para-Rescuer who did Combat Search and Rescue during his service, Frankie has been deployed 11 times. Frankie has been part of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center NICoE program and since meeting Project Hero’s Ray Clark there, he rode a bike with a competitive goal for the first time just over a year ago, and earned a Bronze medal at the Warrior Games last year after training for only three months. “Nothing can replace the fitness and intensity of cycling and Ray has been so helpful to me by giving me a great learning environment.”
Frankie is from Melbourne, FL, and has been training for this year’s Warrior Games. As part of his training, he rode the Tampa Honor Ride with Project Hero last month and is enjoying his first Challenge. “Project Hero is awesome and a one-of- a-kind organization. I always wanted to do something like this and Project Hero gives me hope and there is such amazing teamwork. People here will do whatever is needed to help you and the organization really helps address our need for wellness and mental health support.”
Tomorrow the 60-mile route takes us from Panama City to Fort Walton, Florida.
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