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may/june 2008

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“It’s a choice you make when you wake up in the morning: Am I going to have a bad day or a good day? I choose good,” said SFC Patrick King, an Iraq War veteran, as he stood with fellow cyclists Dave Gudes, Mike Najarian, and Art Wong, members of Silver Spring, Md., VVA Chapter 641, in the parking lot of the Takoma Park U-Haul Center, demonstrating his new leg. “I love my new leg. Look at how it bends at the knee.”

April 25 was a very good day for King, who, along with 50 other cyclists—wounded warriors, their significant others, Vietnam veterans, and their support team—arrived at the final destination of the first day of White House to Light House, a three-day Soldier Ride, a program of the Wounded Warrior Project cosponsored by U-Haul.

“Those cycling with their arms—I almost cried. I thought, ‘I can’t give up,’” admitted Gudes. Added Wong: “These guys and gals with arm cycles, when they climbed that hill, that was hell. But they did it slow and steady, so we did, too.”

VVA President John Rowan attended the event, along with many VVA members and staff, including Mike Gaffney, Bill Crandell, Tom Devlin, Bill Gray, Eileen Mitchell, Mokie Porter, Joe Sternburg, Carl Tuvin, Michael Keating, Sharon Hodge, and her daughter Crystal.

They joined the crowd of over 150 at the Takoma Park Center to welcome the cyclists and join them for a barbecue, music, and dance. On the dance floor, young veterans put their new legs to the test with the electric slide.

This was the second time Takoma Park had hosted a barbecue for Soldier Ride. “A lot happens at our Takoma Park Center,” U-Haul’s Vernon Rosemin said. “Last November, we built a float in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Soon we will be getting ready for the National Memorial Day parade.”

Rosemin and his staff received an award from Las Vegas Chapter 17 for their help with the Wall float.



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