3rd week – Key West to Ocala

Apologies for the tardiness of this blog.  Here were the highlights of the 3rd week.

Monday – Mar 18 – Key West to Tavenier – a long ride over a lot of water, no shoulders, brilliant sunshine, a 7-mile bridge and a strong headwind, glad to be getting close to the mainland.

Tuesday – Mar 19 – Tavenier t0 Tamiami (Miccosukee Casino) – moving from urban area to completely flat terrain, dull overcast morning burning off to a warm bright day.  Finding the Casino was a godsend!  All you could eat buffet was very welcomed.

Wednesday – Mar 20 – Tamiami to Clewiston – moving north about 80 miles with only one gas station along the way.  Key lesson learned:  carry a minimum of 4 quarts of water/sports drinks if you go over 40 miles!  Had a super Cuban supper in Clewiston.

Thursday – Mar 21 – Clewiston t0 Sebring – another hot day going up the center of Florida.  Sebring was a welcome stop at about 2:00 pm – having an early supper listening to the senior citizens at the local diner was the evening’s entertainment.

Friday – Mar 22 – Sebring to Minneola – 89 miles!  Long day made longer by an hour & 15 minutes delay in check in due to computer glitches, but it was countered by eating at the Honey Hive restaurant – all you could eat fish supper.

Sat – Mar 23 – Minneola to Ocala – made it into Ocala by midday, sat in the hotel lobby until the room was ready, then walking down to the local Winn Dixie for provisions.  Rest day – Sunday – was also in Ocala.

 

2nd week – Davie, FL

I’m finding that as I’m on this journey, particular things tend to dominate:  the weather, the terrain, the scenery, the desire to get as far as possible as quickly as possible, the destination, and so on.

But with the 2nd week of my journey, it’s the people of Davie, FL.  All of these folks are unique in their own right, with specific talents & gifts, but the folks that I want to focus on are the people that are making the LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation a positive force to save and transform people’s lives.

Janos Lutz was a Marine Lance Corporal who served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan, suffered from Post Traumatic Stress, and took his own life on January 12, 2013.

If I had suffered devastating turn of events, I would have difficulty in coping with day to day events for a very, very long time.  However, his mother, Janine Lutz, possesses the positive grit & determination to transform this deeply personal tragedy into a inclusive, life-affirming force to help others in similar situations.

Although Janine and her Foundation have several goals, two particularly resonated with me.

The first is about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  Janine immediately points out that it is important to drop the word ‘Disorder’ from this phrase, and with good reason.  It helps no one to keep reiterating and internalizing a ‘disorder’; it actually furthers to stigmatize and disempower the person with the condition.  Janine prefers to use the term, Post Traumatic Stress Growth, which I think is a true game changer, which focuses on growth.  The key is to grow through all experiences (both positive & negative) and emerge a stronger, more resilient individual than before.  What a great concept!

The second objective is to stop veteran suicide.  Not reduce, not decrease – TO STOP.  Wow!  Talk about a SMART goal.  By SMART I mean (Stupendous, Momentous, Awesome, Revolutionary, & Transformational).  It sets a high standard and this standard deserves to be set at this level.  If there has ever been a goal worthy of a “zero-defect”, this has to be one of them.

Janine & her team are using a Buddy Up Program to identify veterans from Iraq & Afghanistan and pair them up with other veterans that have similar experiences with tools and assistance that can be downloaded from her website, http://lcpllutzlivetotell.org/

Not only did Janine open her house to me for three days, she and her team also planned, prepared, and conducted a deeply emotional & touching memorial  ceremony at the town hall of Davie on March 14 that I will remember for a very long time, with the Mayor, Council Members, the Leathernecks, and local citizens – in a phrase – very, very moving.

Then, as icing on the cake, arranging to be hosted at a VIP suite at the Florida Panthers Ice Hockey Game that night where I was honored and humbled to be recognized for what we are all trying to do – Giving Back To Those Who Have Served.

So to Janine and her Team – Andrew, Angel, Collos, Rene, Shep, & Terry, my thanks to you all – ordinary people doing extraordinary things and in the process, thus becoming extraordinary in their own right.

North to Alaska!

 

 

 

In short the goal is simple – Never forget. Guest Blogger, Terry Ryan

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Last week, I was a visitor to Davie, Florida from Pennsylvania. I traveled there to visit my friend Janine Lutz, a Davie resident, and founder of the LCpl Janos V. Lutz Live To Tell Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to “Stop Veteran Suicide”, by raising awareness of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), and promoting Post Traumatic Growth through community based services, like the newly launched “Buddy Up Program”. She has spearheaded and quickly mobilized these organizations in honor of her son, LCpl Janos V. Lutz who took his life, 12 Jan 2013, after enduring PTS upon returning from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

suiteDuring my visit, Janine told me she would be hosting a bicyclist, Tom, who was riding 6600 miles from South Carolina, to Key West, over to the Gulf Coast, and then on to Alaska for the Sea2Sea organization – “Giving Back to Those Who Served”. Wow – sounds amazing! But I didn’t know how amazing until I met Tom. He is Tom von Kaenel, retired Army veteran, cycling alone, without a support vehicle, on this self-supporting journey. But he downplays his efforts and instead asks us to focus on the two goals of the Sea2Sea 2014 Challenge:

1) To remember those who are no longer with us. It is our vision to establish a long range program to establish an Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in each US State listing the names of those who gave their lives for us in these conflicts, with the eventual goal of a national Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in Washington, DC.

In short the goal is simple – Never forget.

2) To continue to help those that they left behind. Partnering with selected 501(c)3 organizations across the country (for example, LCpl Lutz Live To Tell, Purple Heart Homes, Wounded Warrior Project, Upstate Warrior Solution, Augusta Warrior Project, JD-3), we will continue to highlight the challenges that service members, veterans, and their families face and how all of us can help.”

I had the honor to attend the Sea2Sea/LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation Memorial Ceremony, hosted by the Town of Davie on Friday, March 14, 2014. Tom led a Remember, Recognize, and Rejoice ceremony during which the names of 345 Florida military service members who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, were read simultaneously by the audience. The chaos of sound reminded all of us that the conflict, the suffering, and the return is not neat and tidy, and the wars’ effects ripple far and wide.

I am most fortunate to have spent time with Tom and Janine. Their passion and dedication to honor and help heal the veteran community is inspiring, and I urge you to look at their websites (sea2sea.org, lcpllutzlivetotell.org), and consider what you can do, small or large, to get involved.

And I hope that if Tom’s route passes through your community that you welcome him and consider hosting him for an evening’s rest as he cycles from city to city/town to town on his way to Alaska. I guarantee you’ll enjoy meeting him.

Sincerely,

Terry Ryan

LCpl Lutz Live To Tell Foundation Recognizes Sea2Sea.org w/reception in Davie, FL -YouTube Video

LCpl Lutz Live To Tell Foundation Recognizes Sea2Sea.org w/reception in Davie, FL

YouTube Video

Lutz Live to Tell, Davie, FL – Guest Blogger Michelle Coleman

22+ Veterans are losing their lives as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress every day.  More are lost here at home than on the battlefield and the worst part is that it is preventable.   Every day here at the LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation, Inc.  we are posed with the question “Well, what can I do to help?”  Our immediate reply is “Spread the word!” Some pass out flyers, others share our post on social media, and then there is Tom Von Kaenel with Sea2Sea Inc.Chase Vehicle

Tom is riding 6600 miles from South Carolina down to the Florida Keys, and all the back up to Alaska to raise awareness for fallen servicemen & women.  His Florida trail has been dedicated to raising awareness to those lost from Post-Traumatic Stress and what can be done to prevent this epidemic from spreading.  The Lutz Live To Tell Foundation had the pleasure of trailing Tom from St. Augustine, FL to Davie, Fl where he was met with a welcome reception courtesy of the Mayor Judy Paul & the Town of Davie, FL.

Here Tom performed a wonderfully moving Remember, Recognize, & Rejoice Ceremony.  Tom Speech 3Local media outlets covering the event were so impressed by Tom’s ceremony that they published the cover story & photos less than 2 hours after the event.  Immediately following the Davie reception Tom was whisked away to the Florida Panther’s game where he was requested by Rick Case Automotive to be honored on the ice for the work he is doing across the nation.  Everyone that has met Tom and learned of his 2014 challenge have wanted nothing more but to help and contribute to his cause.


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The local Leathernecks motorcycle chapter attended the Davie reception and just had to be involved.  Leathernecks check presentThey are going to be making contact with Tom across the nation in various cities to help where needed. What shocked people the most is that Tom does not take any money for his awareness campaign.  Facial expressions tuned to admiration as he said that he just welcomes a hot meal and a place to sleep.  Which in turn inspired those listening to want to help more.

That night and well into the next morning the Lutz Live To Tell Foundation’s social media sites were on fire with excitement.  Tom & Sea2Sea have provided the opportunity to spread the word about the LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation’s efforts to turn Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) into Post-Traumatic Growth in order to save our veteran’s lives.

@PTSDride – Twitter

Lutz Live to Tell Facebook Page – LCplLutzLiveToTell

Our Lutz Live To Tell Buddy Up program is offered for FREE on our website www.LCplLutzLiveToTell.org and provides an outline on how to locate and pair up veterans in your local community so Live To Tellthat they can have each other’s backs here at home like they did on the battlefield.  Included, is a family system that assist family members in dealing with returning veterans managing their PTS.

The Lutz Live To Tell Foundation is honored to have met and worked with Tom & Sea2Sea these past few days.  We encourage everyone to follow Tom for the next few months as he travels across the nation up to Alaska.  We look forward to seeing where he will set his next anchor and the amazing feats he will reach.

Good Travels Tom & don’t hesitate to contact us if you need anything!

Michelle Coleman

In Memory of Matthew Burke

Dr Matthew Burke – died February 6, 2011

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/augustachronicle/obituary.aspx?pid=148510935

Dr. Matthew Patrick Burke, Major US Army, died on February 6, 2011 at The Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon. At the time of his passing, Matt was surrounded by his loving family and was in the dedicated care of his Army colleagues….
Matthew was decorated for his service during a deployment to Al Asad Air Force Base in Iraq. He returned to Eisenhower Army Medical Center and was serving as the Chief of Adult Joint Reconstruction for the Orthopedic Surgery Service at Eisenhower Medical Center at Fort Gordon. Matthew was a courageous athlete and an accomplished skier, rower, cyclist, and wakeboarder. He completed the RAGBRAI bicycle tour across the state of Iowa three times with his siblings; the final time joined also by his wife Bonnie.
Matt had an extraordinary range of interests, hobbies, and friends. Matthew is survived by his wife Bonnie; eleven month-old daughter Anna Ryan; parents Dr. John and Andrea Burke of Salt Lake City, Utah; sister Erin, brothers Paul and Ted (Kim), and nephew Matthew John. Matt is also survived by his aunt Patricia Keane Kennedy (John) and uncles Paul Keane and Robert Keane, S.J. (Captain, USN). Matt is also survived by his parents-in-law Rod and Jean of Du Bois, Pennsylvania, and sister-in-law Katie (Joel). The Burke Family wishes to thank the medical team at MCG for its care of Matthew. The Burke Family also expresses its heartfelt thanks to the civilian and Army colleagues who cared for him at Eisenhower Army Medical Center. The Burke Family also wishes to acknowledge and thank Matt’s many friends and Army colleagues for their support since October 2010.  Read the full article

Meet Kevin Campbell – walking across America

IMG_1622I met Kevin in Kingsland, GA on Mar 7th as I was finding a local hotel for the night.  He was one of those people that never knows a stranger and his engaging manner soon had me asking more questions of him than he had of me.

Kevin, originally from Boston, was diagnosed with macular degeneration six years with the prognosis of permanent blindness within ten years.

Most people, when confronted with this may adopt a ‘why me’ attitude, but not Kevin.  He said that he saw this an opportunity to see America, the country that he loves so much, so, he started WALKING from Seattle, Washington to the east coast, nine months ago, going one day at a time, working odd jobs to pay his way.

He carries a map, backpack, an atlas, an umbrella, & bin0culars as his eyesight is failing him.  He refuses donations and once he gets enough money from odd jobs, continues to walk to achieve his goal.

He said that his grandmother, who was Irish always told him, ‘Kevin, you must go out to see the world as it will not come to see you’.

Well, Kevin, you’re doing more than that, you’re providing a great example to all of us to explore this great country and get to know its people, one step and one smile at a time.

Thanks for continuing to inspire me on my journey.  Godspeed on your journey and its successful conclusion.

Meet Kenneth E Smith, Sr – Mayor of Kingsland, GA

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I met Mayor Smith on Mar 7th, when I stayed in Kingsland, Georgia.  Mayor Smith served three tours of duty in Vietnam, was exposed to Agent Orange and enemy gunfire serving in the ‘brown water Navy’ (naval operations in the rivers of Vietnam) before leaving the service in 1969.  His biography follows:

Mayor Kenneth E. Smith, Sr. is a native of Kingsland, Georgia.  He served sixteen years as Councilman for the City of Kingsland and was first sworn into office as the Mayor in January 2002.Mayor Smith has prioritized the interests of Kingsland residents, families and businesses.  He has made himself accessible to all of his constituents and works diligently as an ambassador for Kingsland and ultimately its well being.

In 2008, Mayor Smith served as President of the Georgia Municipal Association.  Currently he serves on the Georgia Municipal Association Board of Directors, the Legislative Committee, the Budget Committee and the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Municipal Employee Benefit System and Worker’s Compensation Self-Insurance Fund.

Prior service includes the Georgia Municipal Association’s Revenue and Finance Committee, District 12 President, Dues and Revenue Study Subcommittee, Municipal Operations Committee; and, the Resolutions Committee.  Mayor Smith has earned four certificates of achievement and excellence upon completing hours of municipal training at the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute for elected officials.

He also serves as vice chairman of the PSA (Public Service Authority), of Camden County, a member of the Elks Lodge of Camden County, and serves as an executive board member of the Coastal Regional Transportation Roundtable.

The Mayor participated in the oversight of the recent installation of a state-of-the-art $13 million dollar wastewater treatment facility.  This facility doubled our wastewater capacity yet is very cost efficient.  It is beautifully landscaped and returns clean water back to the St Marys River.

Mayor Smith is a lifelong member of the First African Missionary Baptist Church in Kingsland, and actively serves as a board officer for the church.  He also serves as Vice President for the Zion Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress.

In 1965, he graduated from Ralph Johnson Bunche High School.  After graduation, he went on to serve in the U.S. Navy, where he completed three tours in Vietnam.  He and his wife, Peggy, have three sons, Kenneth Jr., Kevin, and Kimyatta and are also blessed with five grandchildren.

Tom writing here again.  The thing that impressed me the most about the Mayor was his insistence on escorting me to the Veterans Park to have the Memorial Ceremony in Kingsland where he & I read the names of those from the area who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Although it was a busy day for the Kingsland city officials and they could not attend the ceremony, Mayor Smith made the point of making this his priority at 5:00 pm.

Thank you Mister Mayor, for one of the most heartfelt and personal ceremonies that I’ve had during this trip