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(VIDEO) Rio Vista greets Ride 2 Recovery veterans
Cleburne Times-Review - 4/24/2018
April 23--More than 150 wounded veterans and first responders from throughout America were greeted by Rio Vista middle and high school students Friday afternoon with cheers, music and snacks.
Rio Vista was one of many stops for the veterans who participated in the 2018 UnitedHealthcare Texas Challenge. The 400-mile trek from San Antonio to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex included stops in Johnson County, including Rio Vista, Cleburne and Keene.
This year's event marks its 10th anniversary and also the tour's return to Johnson County having traveled a different route last year.
The veterans were greeted with music from the Rio Vista High School band, with Rio Vista Middle School eighth-grader Hailee Bell singing the national anthem.
RVHS Principal Tony Martin welcomed the veterans along with his students and thanked them for their service.
"We missed you guys last year," Martin said. "We love to have our veterans here."
All branches of the military -- U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps and Coast Guard -- were represented, he said.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we want to thank you from the bottom of our heart for your service," he said. "That's what we want our students to understand that what you give to this country is beyond measure."
Rio Vista ISD Superintendent Tim Wright said when people ask who his hero is, he says it's Martin, who is retired from the U.S. Army National Guard after serving for 29 years.
"We appreciate what you do and allow us to be able to live in a free country," Wright said. "I've been the superintendent here nine years, and y'all have been here eight of the nine years. Thank you for coming, and we look forward to you coming back next year."
U.S. Navy retired veteran Pat Ryan of Seattle, Washington was one of the veterans who participated in Project Hero. Over the years, he said he's participate in nine one-week trips.
"I wanted to participate because it's a good way to get stronger, healthier and have camaraderie with the veterans," Ryan said.
The students who greeted them, he said, were welcoming and grateful.
Project Hero Founder/President John Wordin thanked the students and staff for their warm welcome and presented a signed jersey to Bell and Martin.
"We really appreciate what you do with this program every year," Wordin said. "It's one of the highlights of all the rides we do. We'll make sure we'll be here next year."
Martin said six of their 60 seniors who graduated last year signed up to serve in the armed forces, with more planning on signing up this year.
The riders moved on and spent the night in Cleburne at Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn & Suites later that night.
The riders departed Cleburne early Saturday morning and arrived about 8:50 a.m. at Callicott Student Park in Keene for a Texas style breakfast and flag ceremony before continuing on to Crowley.
For more information about Project Hero, visit projecthero.org.
To view a video of them arriving in Rio Vista, visit www.cleburnetimesreview.com.
(c)2018 the Cleburne Times-Review (Cleburne, Texas)
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