HEART…………..yeah

 

 Heart

 That’s the only thing I can think of. There’s no other explanation.

 There’s no other explanation I can think of really. Either that or Superman does exist……and he has a brother…..a brother of another color.

 On 18 August the Flight of the Dove was held in Laurens County. They call it a bicycling event or a bicycle ride but if you ask the participants you get to the truth……..it’s a race. Walk around and talk to the competitors….uh participants….and that becomes clear. These folks are serious.

 And the distances involved are a bit overwhelming. Pick your poison……..thirty miles or sixty……on bicycles. Okay.

 This year Billy Pitts contacted me in the early Spring. He asked me to be involved in a special part of the Flight of the Dove. An orgainization called ‘Ride 2 Recovery’ wanted to participate. Ride 2 Recovery brings wounded soldiers to these bicycle races……….uh, sorry………events as a part of their therapy. Billy asked me if I could help with that part of Flight of the Dove.

 I, along with several others…..SSG Scot and Mrs Patti Canupp, Teresa Mahaffey plus Greg Alexander and Amanda Munion from the Chamber, set about finding a way to provide lodging and food for these soldiers while they were in Laurens County.

 The Hampton Inn and Suites gave us a sweetheart deal. VFW Post 3354 in Laurens stepped up to say they’d be happy to host a cook out. One local Patriot called me and volunteered to feed them all at Hickory Hills on the evening after the race. Without that kind of help I doubt we would have made it. Still, it was gonna take money. We set about attempting to raise the funds necessary.

 Now, all of the bills haven’t come in yet but……..I believe we made it. We at least came close. My thanks to everyone who helped out.

 On the morning of the race we watched our troops pull out. Among them was Specialist Payton. SPC Payton rode a 3 wheel cycle that he pedaled with his hands due to having lost his right leg in the service of his country. Staff Sergeant Rueben Pedro CHOSE to ride the same kind of cycle. He didn’t have to but SPC Payton was his battle buddy. “If Payton has to do it….I have to do it. He will not do this alone.”

 Everyone left at 0800 and man, some of these folks were blinding fast. Less than three hours and a significant number of riders had already ridden sixty miles and were done.

 Our wonded warriors began to trickle in one and two at a time. By 2:00pm all of them were back. All except Payton and Pedro.

 Storms rolled in. Rain came down. Lightning flashed. Flight of the Dove officials came to me wanting the pair to quit due to the safety hazard. I asked. They said no.

 Up hills, around potholes, by pastures with curious cows, past barking and threatening dogs………they kept pushing. SSG Pdro’s cycle developed problems and started losing gears. He ended up with only one. Come on, there’s no shame in quitting now……you didn’t quit, the cycle did.

A brisk “Sir. No SIR” was the reply.

 Riding escort for the pair on a motorcycle was tiring. Watching them push through each obstacle was inspiring. There were honestly times when I was wiping tears.

 At ten minutes past five……….more than nine hours after the start, SPC Payton and Staff Sergeant Rueben Pedro, American Soldiers, pulled back into Presbyterian College.

 They finished last but they never quit. They endured much hardship but they never quit. Hardly anyone was left to see the moment but……..they never even considered quitting.

 Heart. That’s the only explanation.

 I still get a lump in my throat just telling you about it.