Monday, June 30, 2014

Customized Bicycle Represents One Marine's Journey to Recovery

This month, a bicycle was donated to active duty Marine, Michael Politowicz. “Poli”, an active cyclist, is based at Camp Lejeune and most recently participated in the Warrior 100 Bike Ride with President Bush in Texas.

Mike’s friend, Zane Schweer, recounted specific features of this incredibly customized bike and how it positively impacts Mike's life. The two of them worked together on designs that would reflect Mike’s journey to recovery. 

The precision with which Mike and Zane searched to find the right bike, equipment, and design demonstrates how passionate Mike really is for cycling and the Marine Corps. The finished product is no ordinary bicycle. It was meticulously customized with adaptive equipment to allow Mike to ride with the comfort he once experienced and enjoyed. 

Due to his injury, he has limited wrist movement that causes his wrist and arm to ache. He often couldn't rotate his wrist enough to completely shift, resulting in discomfort that began to take a toll during and after his ride.

The limited arm/wrist movement affected his hands as well. He needed to find a handlebar that would eliminate the numbness caused from riding. After trying a few different handlebars, the Profile Design Canta carbon bar was the right choice. It is an ergonomic bar that stretches out his hands and has stopped the numbness. The carbon fiber reduces the amount of road vibration that goes into his hands. The less his hand, arm, and body have to absorb, the easier it is to ride.

According to Zane, bicycles have used cable shifting for decades, but in the past couple years electronic shifting has emerged. “Mike is a prime example of who can benefit from technology like this. With cable shifting, the cyclist has to rotate his or her wrist and push hands/fingers to shift. But for those incapable of full wrist motion, it’s hard work,” he continued.

As a result, Mike wanted to use Campagnolo EPS shifting. Electronic shifting allows a rider to simply push a button to shift. An important detail is that Campagnolo shifters are set up to use either the thumb or index finger. With it being electronic, Mike is able to easily press his thumb and/or index finger to shift. This reduces the strain and effort his wrist has to go through. 

These are all components we don’t think about when shopping for a bicycle, but when broken down show the extent to which Zane and Mike labored over making this meaningful to Mike. 

Mike had to then think of the meaning behind all of the design details of his bike. He wanted to honor Hope For The Warriors®, the Marine Corps, and his fallen brothers from combat.

On the backside of the seat tube of the bicycle, there are three Greek letters and two Lotus Flowers. The Greek letters and large gold star stand for the last name initial of his three fallen Marine brothers, painted facing the rear so they are always watching Mike's back, or his "six.” 

The Lotus Flowers represent the organization "Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness.” This is one of the very first organizations Mike came across during his rehab. They introduced him to cycling, yoga, and how changing his eating habits would help both his physical and mental health during his healing. 

With the final pieces of the design coming together, Zane explains that Mike was “adamant” on incorporating Hope For The Warriors® somehow. 

“The support, love, and accepting nature of Hope For The Warriors® created a second family for Mike. He has made inseparable bonds with the incredible staff of Hope For The Warriors® and fellow wounded soldiers and he knows they wouldn't have happened without [Hope For The Warriors®].” 

Mike and Zane worked on the design of this bike for over a year. Once it was nearing completion Mike shared one of the final pieces for helping him find peace with all that has happened to him. The bike has a metallic blue, gold, and red with a gold pearl finish painted in Jacksonville. It is, according to Zane, “a symbol of his journey.”

For more information and images of Mike’s bicycle, please visit the Jack Kane Custom Racing Bicycles website.

Thank you to Zane for providing the wonderful information to write the story of the meaningful bicycle donation to Mike Poli.

Friday, June 27, 2014

New Bern Run For The Warriors

On Thursday evening, we were contacted by someone in New Bern, informing our staff that copies of our flyer had been printed and were being sold as “tickets” to this run.  This group is in no way affiliated with Hope For The Warriors® and any money given did not come to Hope For The Warriors® or register you for the New Bern Run For The Warriors®.  Please immediately contact the police if anyone approaches you with a flyer, offering to sell you a ticket to this event. For more information on this event and to register, visit:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

#tbt New Bern Run For The Warriors 2008

The New Bern Run is July 4 at the Union Point Park Complex in New Bern, NC. 

Register here!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Youth Rugby Teams Write Letters to Service Members

Earlier this month, Hope For The Warriors® attended the AIG NYC Rugby Cup on Randall’s Island in New York City. We were invited to the event for the third year in a row by our supporters at Play Rugby USA, a youth rugby organization. 

At the event, rugby players, parents, and coaches were able to write letters to service members to show their support. We were overwhelmed by the response we received from the rugby community in New York City, especially from the words of the young people.

Below are samples of letters written that day. We were so proud to be part of the AIG NYC Rugby Cup and happy to know so many young people and families in New York City support our service members and military families. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

#tbt Got Heart, Give Hope® Gala 2012

Actor Gary Sinise, Left, will host the 2014 Got Heart, Give Hope® Celebration in Los Angeles. 

To register, read about our Honorees, or find out more about the Got Heart, Give Hope® Celebration in Los Angeles on July 24, visit the website here

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Father's Day #tbt

Colin Smith, Center, is a wounded veteran told he would never walk again. But that didn’t deter Colin and his father, Bob Smith, Left, from defying the odds. Colin and Bob worked together until they were able to walk together at the Jacksonville Run For The Warriors® in 2009. Knowing Colin would never be able to live completely independently, Bob came to us through the A Warrior’s Wish® Program to build a custom home for Colin so that his needs were met on his long road to recovery.

After Bob passed away, and the home he lovingly planned for Colin was finished to care for his needs. Hope For The Warriors® posthumously honored Bob Smith at the 2012 Got Heart, Give Hope® Gala for his commitment to provide for and encourage his son for a lifetime ahead.

This Father’s Day we remember inspiring fathers like Bob Smith who remind us of the impact our everyday heroes have on our lives and our legacy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ride Across USA to Honor Fallen Soldier in Colorado

By Sarah Duerr

A good friend reminded me this weekend that people come in to your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I was never more aware of this notion than when I heard the story of a 23-year-old veteran named Faith Hinkley, who was killed in action in 2010.  I wish I had the privilege of knowing her, even if just for a season, before she was killed by a rocket propelled grenade attack in Iskandariya, Iraq during her first deployment four years ago.

When I first heard about The Faith Hinkley Veterans Memorial Park being designed in Colorado, something told me Faith must have been an amazing person to have a park named after her. The news came to me from Tracy Draper, team captain of Ride Across USA, a charity team of cyclists who are currently riding from California to Florida raising funds and awareness for Hope For The Warriors®. They will be passing through Faith’s hometown of Monte Vista, Colorado this weekend.  While planning their route, Tracy met Sean Noonan of Colorado, without whom the Faith Hinkley Veterans Memorial Park would not be possible. When I spoke to Sean and his crew, he told me the purpose of the park was to honor and remember local veterans who have served.

The Ride Across USA team will ride from CA to FL in 35 days.

Army SPC Faith Hinkley of Colorado Springs was assigned to 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. She was a cheerleader growing up, and from everything I have learned, her enthusiasm for life was contagious. I love meeting people like that! I can only imagine that she lit up a room with her smile when she walked in. Her positive spirit and caring heart must have been a welcomed addition to any battalion she served in.

After spending an hour reading about her on the “Memory of Faith Hinkley Facebook Page”--everything from birthday wishes to requests to be watched over in battle, to hilarious memories of growing up--one posting stood out the most as a reminder of Faith’s legacy.

A friend wrote, “There is a nice memorial wall at the NCO Academy at Ft. Huachucha with Faith's picture, awards, and biography. When I saw it I figured it was a postcard from Heaven.”

I quickly realized the motivation of the citizens of Monte Vista, Colorado.  Faith was a phenomenal person in her community who brightened the lives of everyone around her. The memorial, statues, landscaping, benches, and lighting will embody her commitment to her country, her love of her family and friends, and give people a place to remember all those who have served and gave all.

Groundbreaking construction for the park is set for June 14 in Monte Vista, Colorado.  The concept and vision of the park is to honor and remember Monte Vista area veterans who have been killed in action. The city of Monte Vista plans to pay tribute to all veterans by welcoming visitors with a safe place to play at Bill Metz Elementary playground. The city also envisions hosting military holidays, farmer’s markets, and other special events to utilize the park as a constant reminder of the sacrifices of young veterans like Faith Hinkley.

Ride Across USA is raising awareness for Hope For The Warriors®.

With 3,000 miles of road to cover in just 35 days, our Ride Across USA team of ten certainly has their work cut out. Riding in the hot days of early summer through the Mojave Desert, they have said it will not compare to what our wounded veterans face on a daily basis. The team strives to show veterans across the country that their nation backs them. Follow this amazing team at

Ride Across USA will be passing near Monte Vista this Saturday, June 14. For more information on the Faith Hinkley Veteran’s Memorial Park, visit

The Ride Across USA Route

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Food Lion's Thriller on the Griller Kicks Off June 13

Food Lion is once again supporting Hope For The Warriors this summer by offering customers an opportunity to attend its annual “Thriller on the Griller” fundraising events throughout June, July, and August at the following select stores. 

The first fundraiser is this Friday, June 13 in Myrtle Beach, SC. All proceeds benefit Hope For The Warriors and our mission.

If you visit one of the Thriller on the Grillers, be sure to post your photo on Twitter and tag us @Hope4Warriors!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

#tbt Big Apple Run

Warriors Near the Finish Line at the 2011 Big Apple Run For The Warriors®

The 5th Annual Big Apple Run For The Warriors® is this Sunday, June 8! Online registration closes tonight at midnight. Register here!