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The Magazine of Project Hero, Fall Issue, Vol. 6

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Published by Project Hero, 2018-11-07 09:47:12

HEROES- Fall 2018

The Magazine of Project Hero, Fall Issue, Vol. 6

FALL 2018 VOL. 6

MONTH UnitedHealthcare
2018 Fall California Coastal
Initiative Challenge

Philadelphia MIKE’S





Letter from the COO 5 CONTENTS

Todd Setter

Editor’s Message 6

Peter Bylsma

UnitedHealthcare California 8
Coastal Challenge

Everysight Sees a Great Fit 13
with Project Hero

Honor Ride Philadelphia 14

Women’s Initiative Fall 17

Photo of the Month 20

Mike’s Carwash 22
Celebrating Veterans Day:
Steve Hughes Goes Cross
Country for Project Hero

circulation 28,095

Layout & Design by Tiffini Skuce
Photo by Sydney Ray

We Are Project Hero @R2RProjectHero @R2RProjectHero



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B efore we look ahead,
thanks to all those
sponsors, volunteers,
riders, law enforcement

professionals and staff who made our

UnitedHealthcare 2018 California Coastal

Challenge such a huge success. Special

thanks to UnitedHealthcare, U-Pack,

Performance Bike, Kenda and our friends

at the American Legions and Kiwanis who

helped make it so memorable and fun.

I am always impressed by the dedication

members of the Project Hero family show

to one another and how busy our folks are

throughout the nation. From solo riders

crossing the country in support of Project

Hero to HUB groups riding in their cities

and across their states, they represent us every day, those who are not with us, that
we must continue with our mission. We
in the best way possible by healing and are dedicated to ensuring the therapeutic
integrity of the Project Hero experience and
building family on their bikes and in their I look forward to riding with you all again

As we look forward to 2019, we are Be safe out there on the road!

excited to plan for several Challenges,
Women’s Initiatives, mountain bike events
Todd Setter, Project Hero Chief Operating Officer
and Honor Rides and will announce our

2019 schedule soon.

It is in the spirit of those who we lose



N ow that the California Tif, Dani and Steve, you will always
Challenge has clearly hold a very special place in my heart of
demonstrated the quality gratitude and respect. I could not have
of our riders and staff, one done any part of my work successfully
thing is clear: our mission is greater than without you guys especially.
any one of us.
There are lots of rides and activities It has been a year of great memories
for our Healing Heroes but there really and great change and I look forward to
is nothing like Project Hero. The reason 2019 with confidence.
is the unique combination of program
and people. We are supported by great P e t e r
technology and we do great things, but Editor, HEROES
it is the community that makes us so
therapeutic and important. There is
nothing like the power and energy we
feel when the Project Hero family gets
together on the road and the California
Challenged proved it.
My thanks are to our great
photographers, all the family for being
so welcoming and supportive, all those
who let me bug them for interviews
when they are just getting off a difficult
ride, those who have shown such great
creativity and dedication to making
our work the best it can be and those
who have weathered the maelstrom of
difficulties through which we have gone
and still navigate.

LETTERS + COMMENTS email us at [email protected]


California Coastal Challenge

October 13 - 20, 2018


The UnitedHealthcare California Coast- Carmel and enjoyed another dinner hosted by our
friends of the American Legion Auxiliary.
al Challenge is on the right track. Highlight-
ed by great routes, stress-free days and superb As part of the 2018 UnitedHealthcare Califor-
management, the Challenge was a memorable nia Coastal Challenge, we welcomed several
and fun experience that displayed the organiza- first-time riders, all coached and supported by
tion’s great potential for 2019 and beyond. our expert staff and the experienced Project Hero
family. Seeing the event through the eyes of Se-
The first day of the 2018 UnitedHealthcare Cal- bastian Titus and Kendra Marsh further confirmed
ifornia Coastal Challenge was typical for Project the strength of the organization’s mission and
Hero: it was a family reunion on the road! Follow- purpose going forward.
ing a great dinner at the Elks Lodge on Sunday,
we left Santa Cruz Monday morning under gor- Sebastian, who celebrated his birthday at din-
geous clear blue skies for a 65-mile ride that took ner in Santa Cruz, is a Nor Cal native who served
us into beautiful farmland where we were teased our nation as a Marine, was deployed to Iraq and
by the tantalizing aroma of fresh strawberries that in his youth was a bike messenger in Seattle
filled the air. It was tempting to just reach out and (which he describes as “a good workout”). He
grab one of those flats as we passed! We enjoyed was introduced to the Project Hero family through
lunch at the American Legion Post in Seaside and Gil Ramirez and Melissa Puckett at the Palo Alto
rode together along the scenic coast through pic- HUB and rode several long distance rides to pre-
turesque Monterey. pare for this year’s Challenge.

The ride along famous 17-mile drive was spe- “I’m liking the Challenge a lot. All I have to do is
cial and unforgettable. Riding as one group along pedal and riding clears my head,” he said. “It al-
that narrow, twisting road under beautiful tall lows me to get to a place of recovery and peace.”
trees with the ocean at our side, the beauty, fresh
air and camaraderie only Project Hero achieves Kendra Marsh is from Sacramento, served our
was already part of the Challenge. We finished in nation in the Army from 2003-2011 and was de-
ployed to Iraq. She is currently working in the
Menlo Park program and remarkably, only started


riding road bikes in July and was already on ous descents that highlight the highway. With
her first Challenge! its spectacular vistas and demanding riding, the
journey was a unique and ideal achievement for
Inspired by support from Menlo Park heroes our Project Hero family.
Monica Hope, Gil Ramirez and Melissa Puckett,
she came to this year’s Challenge and loved it. “I With Hearst Castle on our left and beaches
was riding angry but then I found when I couldn’t filled with sunbathing sea lions on our right, we
bike I needed it. I have been climbing these finished with a pleasant flat ride along the coast
mountains in my head for a long time. Cycling into Cambria where we enjoyed dinner hosted
helps me to get over them and taught me I can by the American Legion in Cambria. We en-
accept myself.” joyed several great dinner programs during this
Challenge but this one was special, highlighted
By the second day, Project Hero riders were
already describing the 2018 Challenge as one of “ Cycling
the best ever! And with good reason: gorgeous taught me I
weather, incredible scenery and stress-free days can accept
of riding with PH brothers and sisters, it’s no won-
der everyone involved felt that way. myself.”

And Tuesday was no exception. by a memorable birthday celebration for Frank
That day embodied the reason we call these Dominguez and the endearing, hilarious sight of
rides “Challenges”: the 92+-mile trek from Carmel him going “all in” on his birthday cake!
through Big Sur and into Cambria today brought
out the best in our riders. The following day, our trek took us through
We left San Simeon riding past a huge Amer- the countryside into Morro Bay where we were
ican flag hoisted by members of the Cambria joined by Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons who
American Legion, who lined the highway and rode Morro Bay with us. Arriving in San Luis
cheered us as we rode to Cambria Middle School Obispo, we enjoyed lunch at the SLO American
where they sang “This Land is Your Land,” read a Legion and finished the 54-mile day with a short
Peace Poem and celebrated our first responders ride into Pismo Beach and the beloved Pismo
and veterans with hugs, cheers and photos. On Beach Lighthouse Suites.
a trek that featured daunting climbs, thrilling de-
scents and incredible scenery, the Project Hero Words simply cannot describe how great
family did itself proud as we rode along the coast. Wednesday’s 70-mile ride made us feel.
Our departure from Carmel took us through
beautiful deep green forest roads as we emerged
onto the coast. Following the twisting ribbon of
Highway 1, we traversed the famed Bixby Creek
Bridge and took in some of the most incredible vis-
tas the Golden State has to offer. Riding through
Big Sur in bright sunshine with a light breeze, our
Project Hero peloton was an impressive sight as
we climbed together and flew down the numer-


Pedaling over the bridge into Oceano after Orcutt with the wind at our backs…and sides and
leaving Pismo Beach and led by a group of stu- faces too…and rode the challenging hills to Van-
dents riding bikes wearing Project Hero t-shirts, denberg AFB and the coast. After the triumphs of
our patriotic peloton rode into the tiny coastal Big Sur, there was confidence in the air, demon-
town’s main street accompanied by the songs strated by a huge group cheer when everyone
and cheers of the entire student body of Oceano gathered again at the top. Dinner gave us a re-
Elementary School. Students holding signs with laxed opportunity to enjoy Solvang and set up per-
the names of our riders waited eagerly to meet fectly for the ride over Stagecoach the next day.
our heroes. Wonderful affectionate chaos broke
out as our riders found their signs and took pic- Project Hero celebrated the next day! Triumph-
tures. There are few things more endearing than ing over one of the great climbs of this year’s
getting a hand-drawn sign from an adorable first Challenge, we made the ascent of the San Mar-
grader with your name on it that says “thank you cos Pass on Stagecoach Road as part of the day’s
for being their hero”! It was a privilege for all of 70-mile journey from Solvang to Santa Barbara.
us to have had that unmatched experience, and it
was a highlight of this year’s Challenge. As gratifying as it was seeing our riders making
sure no one was left behind, watching each of
After Oceano we rode to Orcutt, a small town them crest the top and celebrate their finish was
with a huge heart for veterans and first respond- even better. They all knew they had done some-
ers and one of our favorite annual stops. We left thing very special on this ride!

Their victories were the perfect lead into the


conclusion of what was a very special experience: Her message to our veterans and first re-
our annual visit to the Santa Barbara Carriage
Museum featuring the American Legion’s famous sponders is “There is nothing you can’t do and
tri-tip, wonderful ice cream and fine hospitality. It
was a gorgeous, sunny day, untainted by clouds, can’t get through. You don’t have to be stuck.
and ideal for riding the coast into Ventura where
we enjoyed dinner Friday night, giving us the op- There is so much support and love, you are not
portunity to recognize and thank the volunteers,
staff and riders who contributed so much to mak- alone. You can do this.”
ing this Challenge a success. We put a bit of icing
on the cake Saturday morning with a 24-mile ride Most important, Kendra has a new outlook,
in Ventura, highlighted by a visit to Performance
Bike, which gave us a chance to thank them for thanks to Project Hero family.
their support for the Challenge and Project Hero.
“This was the first time I was proud to be a
Looking back, Kendra’s experience this week
was life changing, especially the Big Sur ride. veteran,” she said.
“There is so much support, everyone cheering
for me and being part of a community is great. I Editor’s Note
couldn’t have done it without their support. Now I The 2018 UnitedHealthcare California Challenge
believe in myself,” she said. “I want to do the next was a success due to the efforts of our dedicated
Challenge. I want to mentor people and even sponsors, moto riders, volunteers, the support of po-
eventually push.” lice, CHP and sheriffs, our friends at UnitedHealth-
care, and most especially the staff and all the riders
of Project Hero. Special thanks also to Gil Ramirez,
Melissa Puckett, Phil Cooper, Chris Mumma and Den-
nis Connors for their contributions to our dinner pro-
grams. Wishing all of you clear skies and dry roads
with the wind at your back wherever your bikes take
you. It’s been a great ride!



As part of registration day at the 2018 UnitedHealth-
care California Coastal Challenge, Project Hero riders
enjoyed demonstrations of new smart glasses tech-
nology hosted by EVERYSIGHT, makers of new
high-technology smart glasses for cyclists.

“Collaborating with the Project Hero team was a per-
fect match. Veterans and first responders understand
the use of technology to enhance one’s experience or
accomplish a goal more easily,” said Beverly Connelly
of Everysight.

Riders enjoyed getting to try out the smart glasses in
Santa Cruz and our ride leaders rode with the glasses
throughout the Challenge.

“I rode with the lead and sweep throughout day one,
to see how they were managing and they did great,”
she said. “We each used the video and still photo
feature constantly since it was so beautiful along the

The glasses were uploaded with the multi-day event’s
routes and turn by turns and when the route changed
that first day, the smart glasses let us know we were
“off-route” and then reengaged with the ride plan, all
visible on heads-up display while keeping our rider’s
hands on the bars and eyes on the road.

“The entire Everysight team was honored to be a part
of such an inspirational group of men and women. We
met several military pilots that totally understood the
benefits of heads-up-display and were thrilled to have
the same feature for their love of cycling. We look for-
ward to working together to show how using the Rap-
tor smart glasses during training rides, competition,
and endurance events will aid to more easily reach
goals, and capture more memories!”

For more information,



T he 2018 Project The ride was organized by mile route on her low-rider
the Project Hero Horsham bike, fitted out with the new
Hero Philadelphia PA HUB, started and finished Project Hero Honor Ride
Honor Ride Saturday, in beautiful Doylestown spandex kit.
September 22 fea- and featured picturesque,
tured more than 250 bike-friendly 19-, 40- and “I was humbled and hon-
cyclists from through- 63-mile routes. ored to be a part of this
out the Philadelphia ride,” she said. “I thank all
area riding alongside A Philadelphia native and the volunteers who sup-
Healing Heroes while veteran who lives in Warm- ported this event to make
raising more than inster, PA. Theresa Arentzen sure we all were taken care
served from 1985 until 2007 of. Thank you to our Blue
$70,000 for and was deployed to Kosovo Star Moms and MaryAnn for
Project Hero. in 2003. Due to back, shoul- the best Rest Stops ever!”
der and knee injuries, she
14 HEROES MAGAZINE #WEAREPROJECTHERO rides a hand cycle and has The success of this year’s
ridden Philadelphia Honor Philadelphia Honor Ride
Rides in 2016 and 2017. For displayed quality of our HUB
2018, she enjoyed the 40- program in Horsham and
clearly showed the import-

“When it’s all said
and done, we’ve
touched thousands of
people from a variety
of communities with
our message of hope,
recovery and resilience.”

ant link between the success boost awareness and Honor For Jeff and all the Project
of our Honor Rides and oth- Ride registrations.” Hero Philadelphia Honor
er events and the success of Ride participants, the 2018
Project Hero HUBS. Theresa felt good after Philadelphia Honor Ride
the ride! was worth the effort and a
“We’ve learned that pro- day well spent.
moting our HUB must be an “I thank everyone who do-
active and continuous pro- nated to Project Hero,” said “When it’s all said and
cess, especially when you’re Theresa. “Your support will done, we’ve touched thou-
hosting an Honor Ride,” said go a long way to help a vet- sands of people from a va-
Jeff Olavarria of the Horsh- eran or first responder start riety of communities with
am HUB. “We’ve engaged a new healthy and we hope our message of hope, re-
elected officials, Town- fun journey. Thank you all covery and resilience. I’m
ship Boards, Rotary Clubs, for an awesome 2018 cy- truly humbled by the level
first responders, veteran’s cling year. I made the 40 of support we’ve been able
events and social media. We miles, now I challenge you to garnish.
also join other charity rides to come out next year and
and bicycle clubs to engage ride with us!”
the cycling community and


Thank you Matt Moore!

For another season of support for Project Hero!


2018 WOMEN’S

Photos by Sydney Ray


The 2018 Project Hero Women’s Initiative presented
by Pritzker Military Foundation and Fluor brought
together a unique group of female veterans for
a memorable therapeutic program held at Camp
Atterbury in Edinburgh, IN in September.

“This year’s participants “The camaraderie evoked Books, who donated 52 Lists
included a great mix of expe- for Happiness journals to the
rienced and novice riders so such team spirit among participants.
everyone matched up real- participants and staff.
ly well,” said Jaimie Lynch of “There were a lot of new
Project Hero. “The community ” faces on this ride, and Wom-
we built will help and support en’s Initiative ‘veterans’ were
our participants when they re- As at prior Women’s Initia- vital in training and acclimat-
turn home.” tives, Project Hero female staff ing them,” said Ray. “Stories
facilitated the event ably aid- were shared, personal break-
From General Carr and Tif- ed by the dedicated support throughs were achieved and
fany Roach graciously hosting of long-time volunteer San- lasting friendships were made.”
the event at Camp Atterbury, dy Hahn and gifted mechanic
to the rides, group discussion Sandie Reilly.
sessions, visits to the apple or-
chard, ropes courses, and clin- The program was highlight-
ics, the 2018 Women’s Initia- ed by support from the local
tive provided an unforgettable community and featured de-
healing and community build- licious meals, including a sit-
ing experience down dinner sponsored by
Texas Roadhouse on the final
“This Women’s Initiative night which included gifts
was an incredibly unique expe- from Moorea Seal, author of
rience and an emotional one,” the best-selling 52 Lists Proj-
said Tina Ray of Project Hero. ect series, along with her pub-
lishing company Sasquatch




Participants show their strength during the 2018 Fall Women’s Initiative.
Photo by Sydney Ray.







O n Sunday, November 11, Mike’s resilience in their daily lives,” said Todd Set-
Carwash will be giving free Ba- ter, COO of Project Hero. “We are thrilled to
sic Washes to veterans and ac- be a part of the third annual ‘A Wash With
tive military personnel at all lo- Thanks’ event this year and look forward to
cations. Mike’s will also offer them the option working with them in support of our nation’s
to upgrade to the Ultimate Wash for just $5 with first responders and veterans for many
the proceeds donated back to Project Hero. years to come.”
The washes are donated in honor of Veter-
ans Day as a token of appreciation to all the Founded in Fort Wayne, IN. in 1948, Mike’s
brave men and women of the United States Carwash is headquartered in Loveland, Ohio.
Armed Forces and the tremendous sacrifices The company is known for its state-of-the-art
they have made to defend our country. Dona- carwash technology, friendly customer ser-
tions will also be collected to support Project vice and its dedication to the communities it
Hero throughout the day. serves. Mike’s has locations in Evansville,
“This is the third year that we are partnering Fort Wayne, Jeffersonville and Mishawaka,
with Project Hero for our Veterans Day pro- IN, Cincinnati and Dayton, OH, and Florence
motion,” says Mike Dahm, President of Mike’s and Louisville, KY. Please visit mikescarwash.
Carwash. “We love the fact that we have the com for more information.
opportunity to do something special for those
who have served our country. Since beginning Media Contact: Bethany McAlister
this partnership, we have raised over $32,000 513-290-9081 or [email protected]
for Project Hero and we cannot wait to add to
that total with this year’s donation.”
“The support Project Hero has been hon-
ored to receive from Mike’s Carwash has
contributed greatly to our mission of helping
Healing Heroes achieve hope, recovery and


Celebrating Veterans Day:
Steve Hughes Goes Cross Country

for Project Hero

Project Hero has been proud

to partner with Steve Hughes, a
retired Air Force Chief Master
Sergeant who served 28 years
active duty for the “Ride for
America’s Veterans.”

Steve began his trek in San Diego
in September and followed the Ad-
venture Cycling Network Southern
Route to complete his cross-coun-
try journey in St. Augustine on
Veterans Day.

An avid and accomplished cyclist,
Steve has ridden all over the world,
including riding as part of the Air
Force cycling team in the RAGBRAI
each year. Before retiring from the
Air Force, he injured his back and
had to undergo a series of back
surgeries. Due to a surgical error,
he lost use of his lower left leg and
foot, so wears a brace to walk.

“I can get on a bike without my
brace, and I feel normal again!”
said Steve, who self-funded the
ride and got SAG support from
his wife.

Since retitring, Steve has devoted
himself to helping others and moti-
vating others to never give up.

“I want to show others that
despite physical limitations,
we can still achieve and we
can still be productive and
active in our lives.”

On behalf of the entire Project
Hero family, thank you Steve!





@R2RProjectHero is feeling the !
Keep posting your favorite hashtags on Facebook,

Twitter or Instagram to share your journey!




“What I Want From Santa”
2018 in Pictures
Holiday Training Tips
2019 Preview


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