The Beginning 2014

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The Beginning – 2014 Sea2Sea Challenge Thanks to all those who contributed time and resources for our ride. Thanks to those who took pictures and video. If you have videos or photos you would like to send to us to use, please upload them to our facebook page. Many thanks … Continue reading

A retired soldier is paying back what he says is a debt to the U.S. army

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Posted: Mar 04, 2014 4:40 PM EDT Updated: Mar 04, 2014 4:40 PM EDT

Written by Elizabeth Hughes, Reporter | Link to Original Article

3352485_GA retired soldier from South Carolina is paying back what he says is a debt to the US Army. His journey started Monday, and his second stop was USC Aiken, South Carolina.

Tom Von Kaenel has vowed to ride his bicycle from the tip of the Florida Coast to Alaska to show his appreciation to the U.S. Military for saving his life.  

It’s hard to believe that just four years ago, retired vet Tom Von Kaenel was in a life threatening bicycle accident that left him with a shattered hip and broken pelvis. He was transported to military hospital in France where he says, hospital staff saved his life.

 Now he plans to ride his bicycle across the U.S. to honor the people that saved him.  “Thank you, this is my way of giving back pure and simple.”

Kaenel’s bike tour is sponsored by the Sea2Sea U.S. Military non-profit organization. An organization that’s purpose is to give back to those who served.  USC Aiken’s veteran Military Student Success Center’s Robert Murphy says having the event on Campus is the best way to bring notoriety to the youth of South Carolina.  “but the interesting thing I think will take place tonight, I when they are away from their friends and back in their dorm, they are going to contemplate on what they just heard and what they just saw-and it might cause them to go a little bit deeper in their studies whether its religion philosophy, why do people go to war and maybe cause them to go a little bit deeper.”

The students I spoke with at UCS Aiken, on campus had no idea Von Kaenel would be showing up, and say after hearing his story, they are rooting for him whole heartedly.

Ally Brown, a student said Tuesday, “It just made me love, and respect the military even, more and want to encourage them.”

Danielle Seibert, another student says, “it makes me really grateful and thankful for not only my family but everyone else serving in the military, because we take that for granted on a daily basis.”

Von Kaenel says being here with the students is just the start of his long journey, and he hopes that sharing his story will remind the students of the dedication and commitment the U.S. Army has for Americans. “This kind of event changes your life because you see the depth, the devotion and sacrifice these men and women servicemen make.”

Von Kaenel should finish his journey in July, and says the road won’t be easy but it’s the least he could do to thank the men and women who saved his life.

Sea2Sea Remembers Fallen and Living Military

Great Video Summary of why Sea2Sea is doing what they do.

Link to original video on IndependentMail.com

Cross-country bike ride to highlight veterans’ needs

Link to Original Article

Cross-country bike ride to highlight veterans’ needs

By Michael EadsPosted February 28, 2014 at 9 p.m., updated February 28, 2014 at 9:10 p.m.

CLEMSON — A Six Mile native will ride his bicycle coast to coast this spring to raise awareness of veterans’ issues.

A crowd of over 100 students, veterans and well wishers gathered Friday afternoon in the Scroll of Honor Memorial across from Memorial Stadium to send off Tom von Kaenel on the Sea2Sea 2014 Challenge. Von Kaenel’s ride will take him from Key West, Fla., to Juneau, Alaska — a four-month trip covering 7,000 miles. A 2011 ride took him from Washington State to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

“From my perspective, I’ve got to do something and this is what I’m doing,” von Kaenel told the crowd.

 

Sea 2 Sea remembers fallen and living military

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The Army veteran was inspired to work on behalf of returning Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers after recuperating in a U.S. military hospital in Germany in 2010 from injuries suffered during a vacation in the French Pyrenees mountains. Once recovered, he dedicated himself to raising money and awareness for organizations that serve the needs of this newest generation of American combat veterans.

Von Kaenel also shared the story of Travelers Rest resident Jason Scott Roth, a Marine lance corporal who took his own life last fall after waiting over a year for mental health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs. He said nearly one veteran takes his or her own life every hour on average because of being unable to get needed help and being unable to adjust to life back home.

One old friend showed up unannounced Friday to show his support for von Kaenel’s work for military veterans.

“I know Tom puts a lot of heart in it,” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told the crowd. “I think most of us wish we could do more. We’re all trying to figure out what we can do.”

The ceremony included the reading of over 90 names of Upstate soldiers who have died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and a rifle salute. The names were read by cadets from the Clemson Corps, the university’s ROTC program.

Von Kaenel shared the podium with volunteers from various Upstate groups working to help local veterans transition back to civilian life, including JD-3 Veterans Organization (www.JD-3.org), Upstate Warrior Solution (www.upstatewarriorsolution.com) and Honoring Their Service, a Keowee Key effort that can be found on Facebook.

Anyone wanting to track von Kaenel’s progress or learn more about helping returning veterans should visit sea2sea.org.

Six Mile Resident to Embark on Ride for Veterans

Great Article about Tom’s 2nd ride for Sea2Sea in The Greenville News

Feb 24, 2014

Exerpt from the Article:
(For the full article, click here)

This trip is different from von Kaenel’s first Sea2Sea ride in 2011. This one is not about raising money. He wants to raise awareness about those who have died and about those who live with the weight of war on them. And he also wants to let people know about the organizations that help, such as Upstate Wounded Warriors or Gold Star Mothers.

“The extraordinary people are those people that have lost their loved ones in those conflicts and carry on day after day to try and live a normal life,” he says fighting tears. “The extraordinary people are the ones that come back damaged and hurt from visible and invisible wounds, and the families that are struggling to help them lead a normal life that is safeguarded by our constitution.

Six Mile Resident to Embark on Ride for Veterans

Six Mile Resident to Embark on Ride for Veterans

In Memory of Jason S Roth

In Memory of Ride: March 1 – Clemson to Aiken
LCpl Jason S Roth – died November 18,  2013

From YouTube:

Published on Nov 19, 2013

This is a memorial video for my best friend of 5 years LCpl Jason S. Roth. He was one of the kindest, funniest, easy-going people I have ever met. He could make a room glow with his smile and turned crappy situations into funny ones. Never a dull moment. Jason took his own life after a hard struggle after his time in the Marine Corps. Please pray for his family and friends. Jay you will never be forgotten, I will think of you every day. Peace man.

Song: Miranda Lambert – Over You

 

“The Wave” Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 4

The Sea2Sea Foundation's Newsletter Header

We’ve done it! We successfully completed our 4412 mile journey across the UK & the US, arriving outside Washington, DC (Crystal City) on July 3rd and finishing at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, England on July 7thIt has been the ride of a lifetime, in large part because of your encouragement & support. I personally would like to thank each of you for holding us in your thoughts & prayers during the journey & in helping us achieve our goal of raising the awareness of the sacrifices that US & UK service members, veterans, & their families have made since 9/11.I also invite you to take one more step with me, specifically to do one act that works best for you (whether it is a donation of your money, time, or services) to remember, recognize or rejoice for those who have sacrificed so much for all of us. And for those who have already done this, you have my heartfelt thanks.

I would like to thank the members of the Sea2Sea Team whose hard work & dedication was instrumental in achieving our aim. They are (in no particular order):

Alvon & Maureen Elrod, Bruce & Marj Hammersley, Judy Dabney, Cheryl Washburn, John Sprowl, Tricia Murdock, Rob & Lynn Dow, Tracey Dow, Terry Wells, Jo Rockwood, Maggie & Tom Donaldson, Chip Meeks and Bob Cox.

Finally, I’ll be taking a backward glance to thank those in the next edition of The Wave to recognize our corporate sponsors & ‘shepherds’ who supported & guided us from Sea2Sea and to talk about the future. Once again, thanks again to all of you, as you have been key in helping us to give back to those who served.

Sincerely,

Tom

A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE JOURNEY FROM SEA2SEA

Where we have been, and what we have done (where we are going will be in the next newsletter)

The journey from Sea2Sea has been a teacher of many things, but three stand out and encompass what Sea2Sea intends to accomplish:

  1. Remember

  2. Recognize

  3. Rejoice

Our forthcoming efforts encircle these important lessons. At Sea2Sea, we will strive to remember those who have fallen, recognize the sacrifices of families and individuals who serve our country and rejoice in the freedoms that we enjoy.

It seems like a lifetime ago that we began our trek at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire England, but it was only on April 16th & we could not have had a better send off from the Base Commander and the ‘US First Sergeant’ driving a World War II jeep.

REMEMBER:

We began our mission to remember the fallen for each day of the journey.

We held a total of 66 remembrance ceremonies to reflect the loss of over 7000 US & UK service members.  This was the hardest part of the ride, made easier by all those who participated (estimated to be over 2000 total).


For me, enormity of the loss hit when we laid out the cards in the amphitheater behind the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier on the morning of 4th July.  We could only glimpse the depth of feeling that family members & friends must experience on a daily basis.

RECOGNIZE:

We also recognized both on our website and at each ceremony a US & UK Military Charity and nominated those two to be our ‘charities of the day’.  Here is the enthusiastic reception given by the CEO of the Veterans Charity, Danny Greeno on the first day of the ride at Brize Norton.

REJOICE:

Finally, the 3rd ‘R’ is, of course, Rejoice! This was the easiest part to do every day, as we met diverse people in both the US & UK united by a deep set of core values of love, support, & appreciation of those who wear or wore the military uniform or supported them.  Here is some representatives of the Combat Bikers Veterans Association who welcomed us in Fayetteville, NC on Jun 18th.

And here is what the celebration party looked at Buffalo Wild Wings in Crystal City, on July 3rd.

So, the leading question is, ‘What next?’  I will be working on a final ‘R’ before we gear up for the next challenge and that ‘R’ is Recover!

All the best,

Tom

“The Wave” Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 3

The Sea2Sea Foundation's Newsletter Header

Volume 1 Issue 3
The end of the US leg of the 2012 Sea2Sea Challenge is fast approaching and the riders are within striking distance of completing the journey from the west coast to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Sitting on the seat of a bicycle that has carried me more than 4200 miles, across a continent and so much further than imagined has given me a perspective I had not anticipated. This passage has helped me reach beyond myself and out to the hearts of Americans and British alike.

Ending such an odyssey is a bittersweet experience – amazing for the enthusiasm and support we have received from so many along the way; terrible for such a meaningful undertaking to come to a conclusion at all; bittersweet describes it completely.


The Remembrance Ceremonies have ranged in attendance from merely three of us on occasion to well over 200 on others. Throughout the journey, one prominent fact shone through all the weather, all of the miles, the mountains, the valleys, the long straight-aways and the curvy roads too: Americans love their country and the veterans who have defended it!

To paraphrase Alexis de Tocqueville from his book Democracy in America, Liberty cannot be established without morality, or morality without faith. We have found people, or rather people have found us, whose faith remains the bedrock of their lives and who consistently choose hope over despair as a compass for the future.

The individuals we encountered across the United States are the heroes of today. We have met Cub Scout Mothers who are helping the orphans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to establish normalcy in their lives. We have also met police officers putting on a charity event for a mother whose son was seriously wounded in Afghanistan. There are many words to describe the actions of these caring people, none of which fully capture the devotion each shows for one another or the feeling that comes from being witness to their innumerable acts of caring and kindness.



These people serve each other with love and charity, pursuing nothing for themselves. Instead they seek only to relieve the burdens of others. Early on in our journey, we met a young woman, age 19, who was an Afghan war widow, named Hope. She and her husband, Riley had been married for only five months when she received the news of his death. This brave woman embodied all of the qualities we found so prevalent among those who supported us throughout our travels; the preacher who served during the Vietnam era who prayed for us every night was another who made such a difference to our experience. Each of these individuals and all of them too brought home one great shining idea: being an American cuts across all ages and ethnicities, all differences a mind can think of; being an American is a transcendent experience and being reminded of this great shining idea was what we found so profoundly rewarding as it came home to us again and again many times along the way.
Now it is time to go back to where we started on April 16 to complete the circle and pay homage to the best allies that we, as Americans, have: the British people, for they too have suffered travesties through these wars.

My pledge to the people that support our cause is to continue to look for new ways to “Give Back To Those Who Serve” until we transform the awareness that we have raised during our Sea2Sea 2012 Cycling Challenge to actions that will make a difference to those who have secured those precious freedoms that we enjoyed at such a very high price.