Four cadets will ride 102 miles Oct. 5 to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund. -- VMI Photo by Kevin Remington.
Cadets to Cycle 102 miles to Raise Money for Semper Fi Fund
LEXINGTON, Va., Sept. 20, 2013 – A quartet of VMI cadets is going for a bike ride Saturday, Oct. 5, but this won’t be a casual jaunt through the countryside.
The group, Ryan Long ’15, Travis Via ’15, Keith MacDonald '14, and Schafer Wymond ’16, will be pedaling in the 102-mile Martin’s Tour of Richmond, all with a higher purpose in mind.
While most of the competitors will be there to promote the sport of cycling, the cadets will be riding in honor of the 14 VMI alumni who have fallen on the battlefield since Sept. 11, 2001. At the same time, they are helping raise money for the Semper Fi Fund, a charitable organization that aids veterans returning home from combat.
“We’re using cycling as a platform to fundraise,” said Long, who added he didn’t have to work very hard to get his three teammates to agree to the grueling trek. “Cycling is something we all enjoy. Then to be able to do it for a good cause, in the memory of fallen VMI alumni, there wasn’t a whole of convincing to be done.”
Making the decision to ride and raise money for a worthy cause was easy. The hard part was deciding which organization was the most deserving. After much research, they settled on the Semper Fi Fund, which uses 95 percent of its proceeds to aid returning veterans who need financial help for one reason or another.
To make those donations and to ride the 100 miles in the honor of fallen VMI heroes seemed to be a natural extension of their work.
Cadets often think about the alumni who died in the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, noted Via. “Those are people who have been through the same things we’ve been through. They’ve gone through the Rat Line; they did breakout; they had Ring Figure.”
The quartet set an ambitious goal when they thought about how much money they wanted to raise. They have brought in close to $4,000 so far and are hoping the last couple of weeks before the race will add more to the coffers.
To donate, one need only visit the team’s website. Checks payable to the Semper Fi Fund can also be sent directly to Long at 450 Burma Road, Virginia Military Institute 80809, Lexington, Va. 24450. He will forward the money to the fund.
Long participated in the same bike ride last year, an event that begins and ends at the Richmond International Raceway. The group riding this year hopes it becomes an annual event for cadets, continuing long after they receive their own commissions.
“We want to pass it down from class to class,” Via said. “If we can pass it down from class to class, I think that’s a really neat tradition we can leave behind.
“When you are a cadet seeking a commission here, it really hits home for you,” concluded Via, who plans on entering the Marine Corps after graduation. “You’re able to give back to people who have already given so much.”