March 9, 2018
Day 5 of the UnitedHealthcare Gulf Coast Challenge began with a delightful change from the past days of rain and wind: we had a tailwind!
Our riders enjoyed sunny skies and warmer temperatures as we left Mobile, AL on our way to Gulfport, MS, along the flat roads of the Gulf Coast. A group Ingalls Shipbuilding employees road and in Pascagoula their employees lined the road, holding signs of support and cheering our riders.
As we arrived into the city limits of Gulfport, we visited the US Armed Forces Retirement Home, where our riders met and honored the service of American Heroes including World War II and Korean War Veterans. It is always a special honor for us to visit them and our riders truly enjoyed the experience of meeting with older generations of America’s Finest.
One of the best parts of this year’s UnitedHealthcare Gulf Coast Challenge – and all our Challenges – is when we welcome riders back into our riding family. Sue Davis is an Air Force veteran from Traveler’s Rest, SC, who has returned to Project Hero and this year’s Gulf Coast Challenge after an absence of several years.
Sue’s first ride with us was on the Memorial Challenge in 2013. She was so inspired by the experience, she helped us start our program at the Charleston VA later that year, then rode on every Challenge in 2014 as a Bravo group pusher and the 2015 UnitedHealthcare Gulf Coast Challenge. After undergoing hip surgery in 2017, she started her comeback by riding the Marine Corps Marathon, where she won the Women’s Division against elite, international competition.
“I didn’t finish that ride in 2015, so I am going to ride to the finish on this one in New Orleans for sure,” she said.
She has enjoyed this year’s Challenge as part of her recovery which included riding 150 miles a week in preparation for the 2018 Gulf Coast Challenge. “I am on my way back and the lights are on!” she said. “I rode with Delta the first day and was so excited to ride with Group 2 today I couldn’t sleep last night!”
The highlight of the 2018 UnitedHealthcare Gulf Coast Challenge for Sue has been supporting her fellow riders. “I have been welcomed back by old friends and made new ones. I love helping others ride and helping other riders grow,” she said. “I have realized I have a purpose, that you can make a difference in the world even if it is for one person.”
“The magic of Project Hero happens when the riders get on their bikes and connect with each other,” she said. “It is such a simple thing yet it has a profound impact. Going fast doesn’t matter here, getting to the end does.”
Sue, we could not agree more and welcome back to the family!
Tomorrow we complete of our 2018 UnitedHealthcare Gulf Coast Challenge journey with a 63-mile ride ending at Champions Square at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
Media coverage includes:
Engage and connect
in our multi-day, one-day
or daily local programming.
Be present and experience.
Give a little time and receive so
much more. We have hundreds
of opportunities throughout
the year. JOIN US!