Desert Storm vet cycles 2,500 miles for Wounded Warriors
By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel, 23rd Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 05, 2011
WAYCROSS, Ga. -- Editor's note: The mention of the Wounded Warriors Project does not constitute endorsement by Moody Air Force Base or the U.S. Air Force.
Family and friends eagerly waited outside a small YMCA in Waycross, Ga. People of all ages lined the road waving American flags.
As eager friends and family stand alongside the road, flashing red and blue lights approached on the horizon. The police cars were following a single man on a bicycle.
Jason Rogers completed his cross-country trip in his hometown of Waycross. He started his journey in San Diego April 10, riding about 120 miles a day on his bicycle.
Mr. Rogers rode his bicycle 2,500 miles across America on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project.
Throughout the trip Mr. Rogers encountered many challenges. Flat tires, mountains and the heat of the New Mexico desert were some of the many things he overcame to finish his journey.
"I did this to raise money for the men and women who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Mr. Rogers.
"I saw men and women coming home who were severely wounded while defending our freedoms, and I wanted to do something," he added. "They shouldn't have to pay for anything for the rest of their lives. We owe them everything. They are the true heroes."
Mr. Rogers served in the Air Force during operations Desert Storm and Shield as a liquid fuel systems maintenance specialist.
"Military men and women are my motivation," said Mr. Rogers. "When I was in Desert Storm and Shield, my motivation was knowing that people back home supported me."
Even though Mr. Rogers served in the military years ago, he didn't know about the Wounded Warriors Project until recently.
"I wanted to make people aware of the Wounded Warrior Project," said Mr. Rogers. "My mom did a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project about four years ago. That's how I found out about them."
Throughout all stages of his cross-country trip, Mr. Rogers had the help and support of his friends and family. Allen Smith, triathlon coach and bike technician, made the trip from San Diego to Waycross, with Mr. Rogers.
"We met through our triathlon experience," said Mr. Smith. "We have been training since December for this.
"During the trip I would drive 10 to 15 miles ahead of him then meet him there," he added. "Once we met up, I would refresh his drinks and get him food."
Mr. Smith did more than just refresh drinks. Mr. Smith, who served in the United States Navy from 1974 to 1977, is a certified triathlon coach and bicycle technician.
"Allen was indispensable," said Mr. Rogers. "He fixed everything with my bicycle, mapped out the routes and made sure I had food and water. He took care of everything, and made it so all I had to do was ride."
Linda Rogers, wife of Jason Rogers, was also an important part of the campaign for the Wounded Warrior Project.
"I dealt with a lot of the publicity, trying to get the word out," said Mrs. Rogers. "I managed the Facebook page, talked to news media and called Moody to let them know about what he is doing."
"For me it was exciting, but at times it was hard," she added.
Mr. Rogers completed the 2,500 mile trip in only three weeks, and even though he fell short of his goal of $100,000, the website is still open for donations.
"I would love to do it again," said Mr. Rogers. "I want to thank God for getting me home safe and giving me the strength to do this."
Mr. Rogers is not a professional athlete, just a man who wanted to make a difference.
"I am very proud of Jason," said Mr. Smith. "Jason is one of the few people who have actually done something like this. There are far better cyclists out there than Jason, but most of them would have quit a long time ago. Jason has true integrity and heart. He had the motivation, to finish this."
The vision of the Wounded Warrior Project is "To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded warriors in this nation's history."
To make a donation, visit www.coast 2coastwarriorride.com.