Looking for a way to have fun and keep fit this season? Join Jerry Morris and Honor the Warriors on their Thursday night bike rides every other week throughout the summer. “We all ride at a conversational pace through the pleasant and safe neighborhoods of Mint Hill. We welcome anyone, of any age group, to get out and have fun with us.” Morris shares.
Honor the Warriors is a veterans group providing camaraderie and purpose. “We think bike rides are more than just exercise – they’re recognition that all a soldier has worked for is still within his grasp. When veterans get released, there can be quite a lag between what the military does and what the VA is going to do. Soldier who have fallen in love with cycling during their rehab, sometimes have to wait as long as a year to get their own hand cycles. We want to help close that gap.” Morris explains.
“Often, if a veteran is forced to take a year off of cycling, he doesn’t come back to it. We use donations to purchase specialty bikes – some of which can cost close to $4200 – and we lease them out to veterans for a dollar.” Morris asserts. Honor the Warriors keeps a stable of bikes available to use from commuters to high speed options.
The group also performs all necessary upkeep and maintenance. “In fact, it you are interested in joining our group rides, but you haven’t used your personal bike in a while, bring it out early and we may be able to help give it some love. If you don’t have a bike, let me know ahead of time you want to join the ride, and I may be able to fit you with a bike to suit.” Morris states.
The community rides encourage no pressure or competition with anybody but yourself. Plus, they are a great way to meet people who share similar interests. “It is important to know that these rides are not only for veterans. Anybody can join in. In fact, veterans love getting to spend time with civilians.” Morris voices with a smile. ” Honestly, some of the best experiences our group has come across happen during our two-day riding event during the last weekend in October where we interact heavily with non-military individuals.”
“One of our group stops is at First Ward Elementary and every year they do something special to welcome us. But, you know, kids have no filter, so they just walk right up to our athletes and ask point blank about their amputations. And, contrary to adult belief, this isn’t rude! In fact, our guys need to be able to tell their stories and interact on a level that makes them feel their disabilities truly are no big deal.”
Honor the Warriors has been going strong in Mint Hill for three years. During that time, Morris has seen the group grow from 60 riders to 120. They have gone from raising $1500 in donations during their first year, to closing in on $80,000 this year. And Morris says there is no chance of him slowing down. “I just think of instances where guys have come and said without you I don’t know where I’d be or what I’d be doing. That gives me the drive to keep going.”
The group will be continuing to prepare for their October ride and they will be participating in the Veterans Day Parade in November. Interested readers can look out for updates from Jerry Morris and Honor the Warriors on the What’s Up Mint Hill group on Facebook.