Face of America Bicycle Ride Changed Marine Corps Veteran’s Life

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Marine Corps veteran LeMar Best sustained traumatic injuries during his service, but his participation in the annual Face of America bicycle ride from World T.E.A.M. Sports is helping him regain his fitness.

Marine Corps veteran LeMar Best at the 2013 Face of America ride.

Marine Corps veteran LeMar Best (on left) lines up for the start of the Sunday stage of Face of America 2013. Photograph by Kimberly Warpinski.

I never knew how fun and challenging riding a recumbent bike would be. I love challenges, and I promise myself to excel each time I ride.

Suffering a traumatic brain injury, multiple body scars, a loss of smell and the loss of his right eye, Marine Corps veteran LeMar Best is regaining his fitness, one stroke at a time, through participating in outdoor sporting events like the annual Face of America bicycle ride from World T.E.A.M. Sports.

Retiring after 13 years of service with the Marine Corps, Best rode the 2013 Face of America ride, an inclusive, 110-mile, two-day ride from Washington DC to the historic battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Best will return this coming April 25-27 for his second Face of America, this time on a new ICE Adventure recumbent bicycle he received as a gift from a dedicated ride marshal.

“I went through a lot of ups and downs for the remainder of my career, but with everything that happened, I know that I played the cards I was dealt sincerely, and with the utmost confidence,” said the Fayetteville, Pennsylvania veteran of his career following his injury. “Even though I was dealt a bad hand, I know I made the necessary plays that needed to be made.”

Best saw the Face of America ride as an opportunity. “My health was stable. I saw no more surgeries in my near future. I felt that it was the right time for me to start being active again, so I can build myself up both physically and mentally to remain strong for the long run.”

At ride check-in in Arlington, Best met ride marshal Sharon Gill, who offered to watch over the injured Marine. “I understood that this was LeMar’s first real coming out since he was wounded, though he had been athletic all his life,” said Gill. “During two days of cycling, I checked in on him and always found him to be doing great - in fact, he was playfully trash-talking by the second day.”

“I never knew how fun and challenging riding a recumbent bike would be,” said Best. “I love challenges, and I promise myself to excel each time I ride.”

Returning home after the ride’s conclusion, Best decided more cycling would be useful. Working with the Veterans Administration, he applied for a recumbent he could use for training and for events. Progress was slow, however, and Best reached out to Gill, who promised her assistance. “I was, and have been, totally impressed by LeMar’s perseverance, his attitude and his new passion for cycling,” said Gill.

Geoffrey Moulton, a Face of America ride marshal and Army veteran, also offered to help. “I could assist because of my connections with the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia,” recalled Moulton. “I contacted LeMar and listened to his story.”

Another Face of America veteran also offered assistance. “Kristine White told me about Hal Honeyman and Project Mobility,” said Moulton. “I liked the purpose of Project Mobility and purchased tickets for the raffle on the ICE Adventure recumbent.”

A Saint Charles, Illinois non-profit, Project Mobility: Cycles for Life assists children and disabled veterans in acquiring bicycles for therapy and recreation. Founded in 2002, the organization works closely with veterans groups at cycling events nationally. A raffle this October raised funds for the non-profit, offering as a prize a $3,000 ICE Adventure recumbent, donated by British cycling manufacturer Inspired Cycle Engineering.

To Moulton’s surprise, Project Mobility told him he was the raffle winner. “I don’t know who was more excited upon hearing the news that I had won the bike, me or the person I am giving it to so that it can continue to be a change in his life,” said Moulton.

“This is a first for us,” said Honeyman of Project Mobility’s raffle award. “Pretty amazing – a really great story.”

Presented by Capital One Bank, registration for the 2014 Face of America ride is currently open. The event will include nearly 600 participants, of which more than 100 will be disabled veterans riding hand cycles, recumbents and regular bicycles. Among those veterans will be Best, riding his new recumbent.

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Richard Rhinehart
World T.E.A.M. Sports
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since: 07/2009
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