Pedaling with Pride Down Memory Lane, Guest Blogger: Greg Bauld

Guest Blogger, Greg Bauld

greg bauldOne of the best things about growing older is you get extra chances to do things you love with people you love.

That just happened to me this week as I got the opportunity to cycle thru the state I love with one of my very best friends. When Thomas told me that I should ride with him to Columbia, I was really intrigued. Initially excited, that excitement turned to trepidation after my training started!!

I quickly realized that I’m not as young as I thought I was. But with his encouragement, I set off with my great friend Saturday morning from Tillman Hall in Clemson, SC. Little did I know that I was about to embark on 2 of the very best days of my life.

As we left Clemson University that morning, I was reminded how much I love that university. Then we pedaled thru my present town of Pendleton right by my house where the most important person in my life, my wife Denise, was waving and encouraging us.

From there we set out on a journey that allowed me to enjoy my friend but also the beautiful landscape of the state that I love. As we moved on down the back roads of South Carolina, I was reminded of the many blessings that God has given me. As we moved thru Pelzer, I was so excited to see one of my very dearest friends Verna Ballinger who drove 30 miles to cheer us on.

How cool is that??

We continued on til we got to Newberry where Tom led a very emotional Memorial honoring the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and their families and friends who are left to pick up the pieces after the loss of their loved ones. I can’t thank Thomas enough for allowing me to join in that Memorial.

The next morning we headed to our capital city of Columbia where I knew my beautiful daughter Katie and her husband Bobby would be waiting for us along with Denise and her friend Yvette from Senator Lindsey Grahams office. As we pedaled up Main Street in Columbia on Sunday morning, a sense of pride, accomplishment and gratitude totally engulfed me.

I was and always will be so proud that my friend Thomas Von Kaenel shared these 2 days with me. I urge everyone who is reading this blog, go dust off your old bicycle. Look on Sea2Sea.org and find out when Tom is coming thru your area.

Take the time to reconnect with the great feeling of doing something for your body and your mind. Remind yourself how important friends and family are to you. Ride, even if only a mile or two, through the state that you love and be reminded of our fallen heroes who have allowed us to enjoy all these blessings.

Godspeed to you Thomas!! My prayers will be with you and an ice cold adult beverage will await you on your safe return!!   ~ greg

Clemson Air Force ROTC holds event to honor start of nationwide bike ride for military charity

by KATHERINE SCHENCK

This article originally appeared in The Tiger on March 7, 2014  | Link to original article

Lieutenant Colonel Tom von Kaenel (retired) began a 120-day journey on Saturday, March 1. Lt. Colonel von Kaenel, who resides in Six Mile, S.C., is participating in the second bi-annual Sea2Sea Challenge. He will be biking from America’s southernmost point, Key West, Fla., to the northernmost state, Juneau, Alaska. During the 120-day ride, Lt. Colonel von Kaenel will cover approximately 7,000 miles.

The first Sea2Sea Challenge took place in Spring 2012. Lt. Colonel von Kaenel and friends began in Ocean Shore, Wash., and arrived at Arlington National Cemetery on July 4, 2012. The group travelled almost 4,200 miles during their 74-day journey.

The difference in Lt. Colonel von Kaenel’s first challenge and his second challenge is that this time, he will be alone. For 120 days he will bike by himself, relying on local communities to host him overnight throughout his journey.

The Sea2Sea Foundation is a United States Military charity headquartered in Suwanee, Ga. Their mission is to “give back to those who serve.” The Sea2Sea Foundation aims to remember those who are no longer with us and to continue to help those who were left behind.

“Clemson Air Force ROTC was so eager to support the Sea2Sea Foundation because of our shared values. Lt. Colonel von Kaenel’s dedication to challenge himself and do something for a cause much bigger than himself, goes hand in hand with what we learn in ROTC,” Nick Kuzjak, student coordinator for the event and senior civil engineering major, said.

Lt. Colonel von Kaenel and other participants are able to fulfill their goals of the challenge through the nightly memorial services. Every night after his bike ride, Lt. Colonel von Kaenel will lead a memorial service to remember those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the memorial service, Lt. Colonel von Kaenel and the Clemson Air Force ROTC honored the South Carolinians who lost their lives while in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Several students also attended the memorial service. “It was amazing to see so many Clemson students as well as other people in the Clemson community join together to honor the fallen soldiers from our state,” Samantha Algary, a sophomore history major, said. “The memorial service really put the sacrifice all of our military personnel make into perspective for those of us who aren’t exposed to it very often.”

“During the memorial service, 16 current AFROTC cadets read off the 96 names of South Carolinians who have given the ultimate sacrifice to our country during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom,” Kuzjak said.

“Tom then addressed the crowd and added a 97th name, a former soldier who took his own life after suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in November 2013. The event put into perspective the significance of Tom’s ride.”

“Hearing all of the names of the fallen soldiers and watching everyone’s reaction shows how committed to service the community is. Clemson began as a military academy, so we will always have strong ties to the United States Military,” Matt Olinger, a sophomore bioengineering major, said. “I have a lot of friends in Clemson’s ROTC program and I know the memorial service was very meaningful to them.”

Von Kaenel travels solo to Alaska after visiting Newberry

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Von Kaenel travels solo to Alaska after visiting Newberry By Elyssa Parnell eparnell@civitasmedia.com | Link to original Article

NEWBERRY — Cycling 7,000 miles across 13 states and parts of Canada might sound like a large undertaking, but for 58-year-old Tom von Kaenel, the venture is personal.

Tom Von Kaenel began his journey March 1 from the Scroll of Honor on Clemson's campus, making his way through Newberry that afternoon.

Tom Von Kaenel began his journey March 1 from the Scroll of Honor on Clemson’s campus, making his way through Newberry that afternoon.

Von Kaenel’s story began in 2010 in a hospital bed at the U.S. Army hospital in Landsthul, Germany. While cycling with a group of friends in the French Pyrenees Mountains, Von Kaenel hit a rock and crashed, leaving him with a shattered pelvis, a dislocated hip, a broken eye socket, and a concussion.

Being a retired Army lieutenant colonel, von Kaenel resolved that if he could ever walk again, he would bike across the country to raise awareness of servicemen and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Keeping his promise, von Kaenel began his journey March 1 from the Scroll of Honor on Clemson’s campus, making his way through Newberry that afternoon.

While in Newberry, as he will do at each stop along the way, von Kaenel held a ceremony honoring those fallen service members. The ceremony Saturday took place in Memorial Park in Newberry. After departing from Newberry, he continued his journey by heading toward Key West, Fla., before heading northwest Juneau, Alaska.

Tom von Kaenel, left, along with Norman Pursley, Luke Watson, and Greg Bauld, supporters of his journey.

Tom von Kaenel, left, along with Norman Pursley, Luke Watson, and Greg Bauld, supporters of his journey.

This is von Kaenel’s second bi-annual Sea2Sea Challenge as a part of the Sea2Sea Foundation. The foundation is a U.S. military 501(c)3 charity whose headquarters is in Suwanee, Ga. Its mission is to give back to those that served. Von Kaenel is the chairman of the foundation.

Differing from his first challenge in two ways, von Kaenel is cycling alone, simply relying on knowledge and assistance from local communities and cycling clubs and those that wish and are able to cycle any part of the distance with him.

“Most people can’t take four months out of their work schedules to do this sort of thing so I’m relying on people wanting to go specific legs of the journey, whether it’s just a few miles or day or two,” von Kaenel said. “But it’s important to have local knowledge of an area to know what routes to take and what to avoid.”

Training

Von Kaenel said his training for a challenge such as this is simple — he does a lot of intensive training, as well as training while on the job. He said he has not cycled very much, but said that to be “cycling fit,” it doesn’t take too much training, just about two to three weeks.

According to von Kaenel, if a person is fitted to their bicycle correctly, a journey such as this does not become nearly as hard.

“It’s like wearing a pair of shoes, if it’s comfortable and fits well, it’s kind of like walking,” von Kaenel said. “Before long you’re kind of increasing your mileage.”

Von Kaenel said he enjoys cycling because you’re using your own power and can go a long way in a day, and can sometimes go to more places than you can by walking, or taking a car.

Why Newberry?

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Tom von Kaenel takes a moment to remember lives lost of soldiers who have served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From the town of Six Mile in Pickens County, von Kaenel said his goal is to stop at each state capitol along his way to Alaska.

“Newberry was on the way, and I thought, what a wonderful town full of history,” von Kaenel said.

Having never visited Newberry, von Kaenel said he most looked forward to visiting the Newberry Opera House and thought it would be a great way to end his first day of cycling.

At the ceremony in Memorial Park, von Kaenel gave each participant several names, which contained a veterans name, rank, hometown, and date of death. Each person took turns reciting the name of a lost soldier, taking a moment of silence to remember the 96 South Carolinians that have perished during their duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Those people are sons and daughters, husbands, wives, nieces, nephews, and grandfathers,” von Kaenel said. “They paid ultimate price by serving our country and I feel its our duty to absolutely remember that.”

While reciting each name, von Kaenel pointed out that the oldest life lost was 59, with the youngest being 19 years old.

“When you read the obituaries and you see that they are survived by a host of family and friends, it just breaks your heart,” von Kaenel said.

Stepping off the Bike

After stepping off the bike from his journey to Alaska, von Kaenel will return back to his home in Six Mile, where he is a business consultant, as well as a life coach, where he works with individuals objectively with what they want to do in life.

Von Kaenel encourages others to reach out to local veterans organizations to see how they can help.

“I know we have a lot of challenges and issues in our society today, but we also have best military in world and we need to raise our game to give back to those who have served,” von Kaenel said.

Another challenge von Kaenel issues is to put three words in front of the phrase “thank you for your service.” Those words are “how can I?”

What this does, von Kaenel said is starts the commitment process back because you are asking what you can do for them, which could involve your time, talent, or treasure (money).

Von Kaenel said a lot of veterans need our time, but also need to feel appreciated and valued for their service.

“For them to know their service is firstly understood, and also appreciated by their country, is a good way to start,” von Kaenel said.

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.

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

 

Prepping for the journey

Hello from the foothills at the Blue Ridge Mountains! Tom here, getting ready for the 2nd Sea2Sea journey.  I depart from Clemson, SC on Mar 1st, will bicycle down to Key West, FL, then across the US up to Washington State, through Canada, to arrive at Juneau, AK by July 4.  This will be about 6600 miles and will be self supporting (I’ll be carrying my own ‘stuff’).

It has been called ambitious & daunting, but no less so than the challenges that hundreds of thousands veterans and their families face on a daily basis.

I promise not to be so serious in the other blogs, but want to emphasize why we’re doing this again:

We have two goals:

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.

We feel that it is that it is important to list the names at a memorial in each US State so that we have an enduring memorial of their sacrifice. We are starting this program in each state that we are cycling through during this trip and will continue with trips through all the States until completed.

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, Purple Heart Homes, Wounded Warrior Project, Augusta Warrior Project), we will continue to highlight the challenges that service members, veterans, and their families face and how all of us can help.

The ride is different from two years ago in two respects:

1. I am currently cycling, self-supporting the entire distance alone, relying on knowledge and assistance from local communities and cycling clubs and those that wish or are able to cycle any part of the distance.

2. There is no dedicated vehicle for support or overnight accommodation – this is a self-supporting journey (I’m carrying all my stuff with me). Therefore I welcome local churches, civic halls, or families that could host me overnight as I cycle from city to city/town to town.

Also different from last time, instead of asking for corporate sponsorships and donations, we are encouraging all these kinds of donations and sponsorships be given to the local military charities (501(c)3 organizations) throughout the route.

I’ll be adding a short blog very frequently as well as Facebook & Twitter. The intent is to capture the faces and places of this great country of ours. Despite our challenges, we are blessed to here in America and to have the world’s best military defending our country.

Our challenge as citizens is to provide the military and their families with the best support during their service and when they transition back to the local communities across the US. They have raised their game to keep us safe, and now is the time to ensure that we respond in kind by raising our game to give back in the way that works best for them and the local community.

I’ll provide a route overview and how I’ve prepared for the trip in a future blog.

Til then, when you next see a veteran or his/her family, consider adding three words to the phrase that they often hear and appreciate. ‘Thank you for your service’. Those three words are: How can I thank you for your service.

Take care, be safe, God Bless,

Tom