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A Ride to Remember

Article by Kent G. Solheim December 4, 2013 //   4 minute read

Everyone has moments in life that they will never forget. Day three of the 3rd annual W100K was one of those days for me, as I found myself in the pack of cyclists pedaling the last miles toward the Bush’s Crawford Ranch residence. President Bush led the pack (no change from the other 65 miles) of wounded veterans, followed by a long line of supporters. Some of the wounded veterans were missing limbs, while others carried emotional scars. I could not help but be proud to be surrounded on that day in that place by those men -- who had overcome so much, who made the decision to not be defined by their injuries, and who had decided that life goes on. The last 200 meters of the ride were graced with a gauntlet of hundreds of supportive Texans welcoming the team with waving American flags and deafening cheers that almost, but not quite, drowned out the encouragement of the President as he cajoled the team to pick it up.

The journey that led me to the W100K started with another moment in my life I will never forget. On July 27, 2007 in Karbala, Iraq while conducting a mission, my unit became engaged in a firefight with insurgent forces. During that firefight, I was shot four times, subsequently losing my right leg to the injuries I sustained that night. My road to recovery stretched nearly two and a half years, but that journey taught me lessons that can only be learned through a crucible of that magnitude. I learned that emotional healing occurred when I interacted with others that had experienced similar trauma in their lives. I learned that life goes on, and that it is redefined by new normals. I marveled at the strength of the human spirit and saw tenacity demonstrated in palpable ways through the examples of others that still inspire me. This journey also caused me to reflect on my children and what I would have wanted for them if I had not made it home. 

These lessons motivated my wife and me to start Gold Star Teen Adventures. The purpose of this Foundation is to enable healing and provide opportunity, mentorship and character development for youth who have lost their fathers in the line of duty. The Foundation does this through summer adventure camps that bring Gold Star children together from all over the United States. It is our vision to have an enduring impact in the lives of these children who have paid an enormous sacrifice and, like the W100K, create positive moments in their lives they will never forget.

The W100K is a special challenge and unique opportunity for some of our nation’s bravest warriors. If you or someone you know qualifies to join Major Solheim in participating in this unforgettable experience, learn more and apply for the 2014 W100K.  

Watch Highlights from the 2013 W100K here: