Ninth Annual Honor the Warriors Bike Ride Event in Mint Hill

Honor the Warriors founder Jerry Morris giving final instructions to cyclists. (Ed Berti)
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The ninth annual Honor the Warriors Bike Ride was held in Mint Hill on Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park.  The park has been used as the kick-off and rally point for the annual event.

Cyclists departing Veterans Memorial Park. (Ed Berti)

This year’s event was not as large as some previous events primarily due to cold and damp weather conditions.  However, the event still did attract 74 riders who braved the weather with a lot of spirit provided by the cyclists.

The two day event brings together wounded veterans and other military veterans along with local cyclists to ride different distance routes within our community and the surrounding countryside.  The routes are 15, 34, 66 miles and the start times are  staggered to have every cyclist return in time for lunch.  Unfortunately, this year’s Friday event was a washout due to heavy rain in the uptown area of Charlotte.  However, we were able to get the Saturday bike ride in and it was a complete success for those who attended and participated.

More cyclists on their departure. (Ed Berti)

On Friday evening at the VFW in Indian Trail the writer was privileged to join these military veterans for a buffet dinner provided by the Women’s Club of Mint Hill.  We had some great conversations and heard some amazing stories.  It’s always an honor to meet and talk with these hero’s and all the great patriots who answered this nations call to duty.  These folks are just an inspiration and to listen to their individual stories of courage and valor is quite uplifting and makes us all proud to be Americans.  All believe they were just doing the job they were trained to perform and protecting their fellow comrades from harm.

A few riders at the end of the line upon departure. (Ed Berti)
Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Jenkins, AFJROTC, Albert Cerino and Phil Mowray from American Legion Post 235. (Ed Berti)

We ran into an old friend from 2016 John C. Felix who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Somalia and Haiti.  He is a 20 year veteran and spent a decade with the Army Reserve National Guard.  He currently resides in North Charleston, South Carolina with his wife LaDonna Marie.  John was born in St. Lucia and moved to America in 1978.  After high school he joined the Air Force and served for 3.5 years.  He then transferred to the United States Army, where he became a citizen through an expedited citizenship program sponsored by our armed services.  He was stationed in Germany for seven years, and his home station was Fort Drum, New York.  During his service he had three deployments to hazardous conflicts which include Iraqi, Somalia and Haiti.  His most challenging deployment was to Somalia.  If you ever watched the movie “Black Hawk Down” he was in the middle of the action and events that occurred.  He later served in the Army Reserve National Guard and was medically retired with an honorable discharge for his service.

Final cyclists departure from Park. (Ed Berti)

There are many stories and each individual veteran who served in military conflicts all have their own story to tell.  I singled out John because we just ran into one another at the dinner and wanted to share his story.

Veteran and Cyclist John C. Felix and wife LaDonna Marie. (Ed Berti)

The Color Guard from Independence High School AFJROTC program was in attendance led by Brigade Commander Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Jenkins.  They were accompanied by the Independence High School Chorus led by Music Director, Mrs. Kristine Neal.  The chorus sang the Armed Services Medley, America and National Anthem during all three departure times while the Color Guard raised the colors proudly.

Independence High School AFJROTC Color Guard. (Ed Berti)

Honor the Warriors founder, president and Mint Hill resident Jerry Morris summed up this day’s events best,  “To make a difference in veterans lives, to give them a sense of purpose and accomplishment is an extremely powerful and rewarding experience.  It’s about the journey, the joy and the independence.”

Independence High School Chorus. (Ed Berti)

The organization welcomes donations, they also appreciate the support from local citizens, businesses, Independence high school, Women’s Club of Mint Hill, the police and fire departments including American Legion Post 235 who all made a significant contribution to make this day a success.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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