October 21, 2010 was a day like no other for Ben Maenza, a Combat Engineer with 3rd Battalion 5th Marines serving in Afghanistan. That was the day Ben encountered an IED, resulting in the loss of both legs above the knee and shrapnel wounds to his face and torso. Every day since, Ben has worked diligently at his hard-earned recovery.
Recently, Ben met Troy McLehany, Dennis McLaughlin, and John Gerlaugh at an event on the Intrepid. There, Ben shared about
the Semper Fi Fund, and explained how the organization had made it possible for his family to remain at his bedside while he was hospitalized. Ben's long recovery process required other support from friends, family, and the Semper Fi Fund as well.
The Semper Fi Fund provided Ben with cold weather gear, books for college, an IPad, and a vehicle grant for a specially adapted vehicle. All these efforts have helped make recovery and transition smoother for Ben, who plans to attend college this fall.
Though they are all from varied backgrounds, each of these men had connections to the Marine Corps and understood that there would be others, like Ben, in need of the assistance that the Semper Fi Fund offers.
Together, they agreed to set out on an adventure, challenging themselves to raise funds by riding recumbent trikes across the United States. Ben would, of course, pedal his by hand. They dubbed this adventure the Ride for Heroes. The men would ride a total of 2,744 miles, averaging 80 miles per day.
When asked what they enjoyed most about the trip, all four of them said they enjoyed the people they met on the road. Inspired by the efforts of these four men, patriotic souls have stepped up to help the team all along their route.
When they ran out of water in Florida, a man who was out of work gave them his last $6 so they could quench their thirst.
In Texas, a little girl who lived with her family at an RV Park gave them a can of pennies she had collected.
The team has been deeply touched by the kind contributions of churches, local diners, chambers of commerce, and other organizations that supplied meals, lodging, new tires, and great company. Special thanks to Fire Station #3 in Hobbs, New Mexico for cleaning the group's laundry!
The Ride for Heroes group completed their ride on August 10th, just sixty days after the journey began. At the celebration on Camp Pendleton, CA, the Ride for Heroes group presented the Semper Fi Fund with their earnings – over $92,000! They would love to hear from you in our comment section below. Leave your good wishes and congratulations, and be sure to share their story with your friends! Click here to learn more about this incredible team! The Semper Fi Fund is extremely grateful for these four men and their outstanding efforts and dedication to our mission!