Ride for Heroes concludes cross-country journey at Camp Pendleton
By Cpl. Damien Gutierrez
| Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | August 10, 2012
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Ride for Heroes
Semper Fi Fund
The Ride for Heroes cycling team concluded their 2,800 mile journey from Florida to California at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Aug. 10.
During their two month trudge along the southern coast of the U.S., the four-man team raised more than $90,000 for the Semper Fi Fund.
According to the Semper Fi website, the nonprofit organization was set up to provide immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. The Semper Fi Fund provides relief for financial needs that arise during hospitalization and recovery as well as assistance for those in need.
The four-man team began with of John Gerlaugh, a retired Marine, and his brother-in-law, Dennis McLaughlin.
“For me, this trip is about demonstrating the kind of sacrifice these young Americans made to this nation,” McLaughlin said. “They left the security and comfort of their lives to give back to the ever-threatened bank account of freedom.”
Soon after hearing of the two courageous athletes from a fundraiser they cycled in New York, Troy McLehany and Ben Maenza, both retired Marines, quickly joined the team to help give back to those who wear the uniform.
Maenza, formerly a combat engineer with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, lost both legs due to an explosion of an improvised explosive device during a patrol in Afghanistan and also had shrapnel wounds to his face and torso.
Although Maenza is wheelchair-bound that didn’t stop him from completing the trek alongside his teammates with his state-of-the art cycle, which allows him to use his hands for peddling. Every rider contributed an average of 70 miles per day, even Maenza.
“My goal is to motivate people and let them know that, even when they’re faced with tragedies in their lives, determination and a positive attitude can overcome any obstacle,” Maenza said.
The team’s journey ended with a beach celebration at the base’s Del Mar Beach. During the celebration, the athletes presented the check worth more than $90,000 to the Semper Fi Fund representatives.