In April, 2016, Rogue Valley residents Ken Snelling, Terry Rasmussen and Bill Anderberg, teamed-up to participate in the Face of America Ride, one of the largest annual non-competitive bicycle rides in the nation. With more than 600 riders, including nearly 135 injured veterans, the event draws and inspires thousands more participants, spectators and supporters.
In 2017, the trio hopes more local riders will join them as they participate in the 110 mile ride from the Pentagon to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Face of America Ride is sponsored by World Team Sports, Inc.
To participate in the ride, Snelling, an Architect, real estate agent Terry Rasmussen and retired businessman Bill Anderberg, paid their own way to Washington, DC. Each also raised $800 in suggested donations to benefit the organization’s $600,000+ fundraising goal, 90% of which directly benefits disabled veterans’ causes.
The 2017 ride will take two routes – the classic 110 miles from the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia to the historic Civil War battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The northern route traverses 120 miles from historic Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to Gettysburg. Both routes require riders to spend one night on the road in “camps” with riders from both routes joining together in Gettysburg for the final miles to the finish.
Since 2006, the Face of America Ride has honored men and women wounded or disabled while in service to their nation. Participants include disabled veterans, along with currently active military and retired military. Active duty service and emergency response men and women also join hundreds of able-bodied citizens who ride together, forming an army tasked with providing the riders with needed support services.
Rasmussen, fresh off of ankle surgery in December, 2016 said, “I had not owned a bicycle since I was in my 20s. When Ken asked me to join him on the ride in January, I was on crutches.” Rasmussen says he went out and bought a bike in February and rode 15 to 20 miles a day to get in-shape for the Face of America Ride.
Snelling said camaraderie played a critical role in attracting veterans and their supporters, saying, “I think any of us could get on a bike and ride 50 miles. Now, we wouldn’t be happy, but we could do it…this is about assisting and helping these vets.” Reflecting on the experience, Ken says, “I was most moved by the number of riders who had photos of veterans pinned to the backs of their cycling jerseys and the personal stories I heard of these amazing vets along the way.”
Snelling is encouraging all local cyclists interested in joining the ride to contact him for more information by calling 541-941-0241 or emailing him at email@example.com. Also, please check the website at www.worldteamsports.org.
Retired businessman Bill Anderberg shared his thoughts and a bit of philosophy about the experience with the Review. We thought Bill’s comments stood on their own and are reprinted here:
What a great experience…I met some amazing people and saw some beautiful country while sharing a physically-challenging experience with two of my best friends. More importantly—I learned a lot—that many of our veterans are still suffering; they are suffering physically and must deal with their pain and disabilities every day. They are suffering psychological and emotional distress from what they saw and went through with the ongoing fallout from their sacrifice…to the point where 22 veterans commit suicide every day in America.
I hope this event and ones like it help focus awareness on these issues and bring help and support to our veterans. As our group of 600 riders left Arlington, Virginia, heading to Frederick, Maryland, we rode past mile after mile of beautiful homes and mansions. Each estate was protected by impressive gates, long tree-lined driveways and manicured lawns. I asked one of our ride marshals who lived in this magnificent neighborhood. He replied that this is where the congressmen, government bureaucrats and lobbyists live…one of the wealthiest counties in the nation.
As I looked down at one of my disabled buddies on a recumbent hand cycle bike, I couldn’t help wonder what he must be thinking…it seemed like quite a contrast between those who make the decisions and those who actually pay for those decisions.
As we rode on into Pennsylvania through beautiful farmland and small villages, people lined the road, waving flags, holding signs and shouting encouragement. One couple was busy handing out free bottles of water to veterans and other riders. I was thinking of what a kind gesture it was just as I noticed a “Support Hilary” sign in their yard just as my mind shifted to Benghazi…it seemed like a contradiction to me.
Having read “The Flags of Our Fathers” which chronicled the lives of each of the flag-raisers on Mount Suribachi, I was incredibly moved as we rode past the Iwo Jima memorial. The size and splendor of that statue still cannot convey the sacrifice of the thousands of men who died there.
We also watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. If that doesn’t instill a sense of pride and patriotism, I can’t imagine what would.
Nearing the end of the second day’s ride, spirits were high, but legs were tired! As we approached Gettysburg battlefield, the most amazing sound filled my ears—with each note, clear and perfect, one of the riders started whistling the Marine Corp anthem. It seemed so spontaneous yet so fitting and appropriate for the moment.
The ride was very well-organized…with a contingent of about 30 motorcycles that allowed us to ride unimpeded for the entire 120 miles by holding traffic at every intersection. We were pampered at every rest stop by hundreds of volunteers who made sure we were well fed, with homemade cookies and treats! All along the way, there were ride marshals who were there to help with mechanical issues and adjustments. All of us were magically pulled along by the incredibly positive attitudes of the veterans. Their joy and optimism was a positive example for all of us to emulate.
I’m so glad my friend, Ken Snelling, asked me to join him on this adventure. It has reinforced a lesson that becomes clearer for me with each passing year – that is, whenever we remove our hearts & minds from our own selfish interests and focus on the plight of others, we grow in so many ways and are blessed by the experience.
Photo is l-r Bill Anderberg, Terry Rasmussen and Ken Snelling.