By Laura Crawford | Camp Pendleton Patch | Camppendleton.patch.com | October 5, 2011
The Ride for Semper Fi kicks off Oct. 12 from Scottsdale, Ariz. and ends in MCRD San Diego. The 70 participating riders of the event, which supports the Semper Fi Fund, have been training for five months—some longer—completing rides of up to 100 miles a day.
One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, which supports critically ill and/or injured members of the United States Armed Forces. Four of the riders have benefited from the fund in the past.
I've always been a big fan of the Semper Fi Fund, so when I heard about this event, I jumped at the chance to interview one of the Marines who is participating. I'm pleased to introduce to you GySgt. Robert Hilton, who is currently in Kona, Hawaii, representing the United States Marine Corps in the Ironman World Championship, which starts Oct. 8.
Me: Why is this ride important to you? Other than supporting the Semper Fi Fund and injured servicemen and women, do you have a personal investment?
GySgt. Hilton: Being a Marine myself, I understand the sacrifices that are made by both Marines and their families. The Ride for Semper Fi is another way to give back to my brothers in arms that are injured on the battle field every day in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. From a personal investment standpoint, I feel better about going into harms way knowing that there are people who are giving back in the ways that the RFSF does.
Me: There are those who now cannot ride a bike the way that you can due to injuries sustained while fighting the war overseas. How do you feel about this?
GySgt. Hilton: This fuels me to push harder when I feel that I can't push through a difficult training session on the bike. I keep wounded warriors in my mind when I need to dig deep when the pain starts to set in during a race. Knowing that due to the nature of my job as a Marine, I need to take advantage of every opportunity that is available, because there is always that risk that I might go on a deployment, and the my abilities to ride a bike could be taken away from me as well.
Me: How long have you been training for this event?
GySgt. Hilton: Since returning home from my last deployment 13 months ago, I have been training non-stop for Ironman triathlon events. My training consists of a seven-day a week program, with an average of 20 hours a week.
Me: What are you most looking forward to?
GySgt. Hilton: There are two moments that really stand out during the RFSF. First, the celebration of all the riders at the end of day three when they make it to the top of Julian. Second, the presenting of the check to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. It feels remarkable to know that we were all able to do our part in helping to raise money for the men and women of the Marine Corps that give so much every day on behalf of this great nation.
Me: If you could say anything to help encourage those just starting to undergo treatment for their injuries, what would it be?
GySgt. Hilton: Injured or not, you are still a Marine, and you always will be. As Marines, we never give up, and we never turn our backs on each other. This is no different. You have the strength to make it through anything, after all, you're still here because you didn't give up. Understand that this nation is with you, the Marine Corps is with you. We will never let you down, and we will be here next to you as you start down this road to recovery. Nothing is impossible!
Me: Is there anything you'd like to say to your fellow Marines?
GySgt. Hilton: I am so proud to be a part of this organization with you. Being a Marine has brought so much honor and dignity to my life, and I am so honored to represent the Marine Corps in this year's Ironman World Championship next weekend on Oct. 8, 2011 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. I will be pushing harder and giving more than I ever have on behalf of the Marine Corps.
I couldn't have chosen better words myself. If you would like to know more about The Ride for Semper Fi, or to donate to the cause, visit ride430.com
I know this isn't my typical 'Moms Talk' article, but supporting Marines and their families is something I am very passionate about and feel we all need to stop and think about from time to time.