Photo Gallery from the Ride for Heroes
Photo Gallery from About the Shot Photography
They came to honor the brave people who died saving lives on 9/11, and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice on battle fields far from home.
They celebrated by riding their bikes through some of the Pikes Peak Region's most beautiful scenery. They formed a patriotic peloton of red, white and blue. They gathered on the green-grass lawns of Glen Eyrie for great music, food and fun.
But most of all, the cyclists in the 2nd Annual Chick-Fil-A Patriot's Festival and Ride for Heroes came to thank the first responders and military men and women of Colorado Springs, the everyday heroes who are their family, friends and neighbors.
"I can tell you that I normally don't give our police a second thought," said Ed Brogan, a military veteran whose family members participated in the bike ride."But when you look around and see so many people here to honor folks who work to help us, it makes you think."
Five very special people were honored as Hometown Heroes. They were nominated and then selected by a committee of Clear Channel employees.
The story behind wounded military man and Hometown Hero John Russell was especially touching. His young son nominated him.
His son writes: "My dad was wounded in Iraq, and though he is in pain all the time, he still manages to play with me. We do a lot of things together. He takes me to karate lessons and helps me practice. And he watches my chess tournaments. My dad is a hero because he's awesome."
Others who were named Hometown Heroes include Colorado Springs native Brett Iverson who served 12 years as a police officer. Iverson spent much of his time working with the Homeless Outreach Team. He helped hundreds of homeless people in Colorado Springs to find jobs.
Army Sgt. Morgan Weaver was serving in Afghanistan when he fell 30 feet and crushed the right side of his body. He is now a member of the Audie Murphy Club board of directors. The Audie Murphy Club is an organization of Soldiers who work to give back to the Army, community, soldiers and family members.
Sgt. Don Harris is a Colorado Springs native with multiple deployments on his resume. Working at home, Harris is known for helping with the Elderly Foundation and VFW. He also organized the Springs Warriors for Charity Car and Bike Show.
Matt Goldsmith served three tours in the Middle East and specialized in finding and blowing up IED's. He was injured in an explosion and sustained a brain injury that has caused neurological problems.
The day included a visit by the Flight for Life helicopter that tactfully maneuvered between the red-rock spires of Glen Eyrie to land on the festival grounds to the cheers of all.
The Fire Department, Police Department, Army and other first responders brought their specialized equipment for first-hand inspection by curious visitors.
"When I grow up, I want to fly a helicopter just like this," said Brandon Jennings, who sat like pro in the cockpit of the Flight for Life chopper.
All in all, it was a great day to be a cyclist and resident of Colorado Springs. There was great music by recording artist Ty Stone and enough Chick-Fil-A sandwiches to feed an Army.
Congrats to event organizer Torie Giffin and Chick-Fil-A. Looking forward the the 2012 Chick-Fil-A Patriot's Festival and Ride for Heroes!