The big news this week for the show is that Chris Carney completed the Soldier Ride, his 4,000-mile bicycle trip from Montauk, Long Island to San Diego. Chris has helped raise more than $500,000 so far for the Wounded Warrior Project, which has become the first official charity of "The Tony Snow Show," and he has promised to participate in another Soldier Ride next year.
I got to accompany Chris and four wounded war veterans for the final ten miles of his trip. We made our way through mostly flat terrain in San Diego, escorted by the city's finest, and cheered on by pedestrians and passers-by. That small bit of the trip brought the entire project alive. The guys on the bike acted like what they were — kids in their 20s, having fun. Jeremy Feldbusch, who lost his sight in Iraq when a piece of shrapnel ripped through his skull, bellowed out a series of truly awful songs and delivered his own unique play-by-play. Ryan Kelly and Gary Dowd, who lost limbs in the conflict, took turns trying to shake each other off a bicycle built for two, while Heath Calhoun, who lost both legs in the service, hand-pumped his way past us all.
When we reached our final destination, Chris dipped his bike tire into the Pacific Ocean, gave his girlfriend a hug, and relaxed. Jeremy, guided by his father, made his way to the shore as well. "This is the first time I have walked on Pacific Ocean sand," he said. "This is the first time I have touched the Pacific Ocean." He has learned to cherish and store each moment now — and he has developed a very special gift for infusing everything he does with enthusiasm and joy.
The point is the guys were having unself-conscious good fun, as guys should. The Wounded Warrior Project can claim some of the credit; it has helped the guys reclaim the gift of believing not just in themselves, but also in their ability to live the American Dream. This is one reason the project sells itself. Bob Dole wrote a check as soon as he heard about it. John Scherer, the “Video Professor,” took up the cause after seeing me on “FOX and Friends.” He not only will contribute computers and software to an educational and job-training facility at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he also is getting involved in a big way, raising funds for the project and challenging businessmen to step forward and do their part. Max Tadlock, California commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, showed up at the final stop, bearing a check for $1,000. Tom Richardson, an institutional investor from Rhode Island, called up and wrote the biggest check yet for the cause. The Gatlin Brothers will give a free concert for wounded veterans at Walter Reed on October 18. Schick® and Energizer® this week have called to offer help. The project is finally beginning to pick up a head of steam.
The Soldier Ride marks the beginning of our commitment to the Wounded Warrior project, not the end – but thanks to Chris Carney, John Melia and the guys of the Wounded Warrior Project, it’s a great start.
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