60 days. 2,500 miles. One noble mission.
Gary ‘Gumby’ West, a retired US Air Force Colonel, Combat Veteran, and amazing patriot, set out on August 1, 2016, with a mission to ride his bicycle down the eastern seaboard, raising money and awareness for the spouses and children of our fallen and disabled service members.
Beginning on the coastal boarder of Canada and Maine, Gary West began his Patriot Honor Ride. With 16 American flags in tow, one for each state he would bike through (including D.C.), the flags would be flown at important places along the way. Some of the locations the flags were flown include Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, Ground Zero, and Fenway Park.
The flags, however, served a deeper purpose than to just inspire patriotism. Each American flag was dedicated to a Folds of Honor family from one of the 15 states, and D.C., Gary biked through.
He then went a step further. After the flying of the American flags, Gary and his team, along with American citizens, dignitaries, groups, and/or organizations in the area, participated in a flag folding ceremony. During this ceremony, Gary taught everyone there how to fold the American flag and educated them on the folded flag’s significance. This was a way to allow Americans to honor and say thank you to the families of those who have sacrificed so much defending our nation.
The flags were raised, flown, and folded over and over. Each time honoring the service member and family they were dedicated to. At the end of the ride, he presented each Folds of Honor family with their dedicated flag.
After 60 days of riding 2,500 miles on his bicycle, Gary arrived in Key West, Florida. It was October 1st, his 60th birthday, and a day of victory for him and his team.
By the end of the ride he raised over $55,000 for Folds of Honor, but he did much more than just raise an incredible amount of money. He educated American citizens about the cost of freedom, inspired them to take action, and most importantly he honored the families of our fallen and disabled service members.
Gary ‘Gumby’ West answered the call and stood proudly with Folds of Honor, proving that with a heart full of patriotism, a vision to serve others, and a passion for the mission, no dream is too big.
Folds of Honor cannot begin to express the amount of gratitude we feel for the incredible support Gary West and his team has given to our mission and the families we serve.
The following are the names of the service members honored during the ride.
- Air Force Captain Kreg A. Palko – Rhode Island
- Army Sergeant First Class Darrell R. McNealy – Connecticut
- Army 1st Sergeant Michael S. Curry Jr. – New York
- Army Staff Sergeant Eric S. Holman – Pennsylvania
- Army Specialist Max S. Poyer – Delaware
- Army Lieutenant Colonel Constance S. Rosser – Washington DC
- Army Major Larry J. Bauguess Jr. – North Carolina
- Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jason G. Defrenn – South Carolina
- Air Force Major David Blair Faulkner – Georgia
- Navy SEAL – Senior Chief John W. Marcum – Massachusetts
- Army Staff Sergeant Christopher R. Webb – New Jersey
- Special Agent Thomas A. Crowell – Maryland
- Army Captain Phillip T. Esposito – Virginia
- Army Sergeant Joshua J. Kirk – New Hampshire
- Army Staff Sergeant William E. Hasenflu – Maine
- Navy Chief Petty Officer Richard Santos
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