34 veterans ride 500 miles for fallen soldiers post 9/11

CAIRO, IL (KFVS) - Imagine cycling over 500 miles.Some military veterans don't have to imagine it.They're riding across the state of Illinois, honoring the service and sacrifice of 34 national guardsmen killed in combat since 9/11.

President and Founder David Helfrich's intent is to honor the service and sacrifice of the 34 who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We wanted  preserve legacy and honor their name and make sure it was carried forward from generation to generation," he explained.

This four day journey started at 5:45 Wednesday morning in Cairo, Illinois and will end Saturday in St Charles, Il.

"St. Charles is significant as an ending point because it was the home of staff Sgt Jake Frasier -  who was the first killed in action during the Global War on Terrorism back in 2003," Helfrich said.

They want the ride to convey a message of self-determination and sacrifice.

"We have to feel pain as riders, as veterans, because we have a moral obligation to understand some degree of pain that family is going through," Helfrich described sincerely .

Captain Tristan Myers is riding for his best friend LT. Jared Southworth. In an emotional speech, he talks to Jared.

"I gotta be honest Jared my left knee is killing me, but I remember when you were in Ranger school, you jacked up your blade. You got recycle. You did it anyway. You made it through Ranger School. When I look down, I don't see the track in my bike I see your boots… (tears) You have been and will always been one of best friends, my role model, my hero, I'll never forget you Jared."

Remembered, as they ride with each of the fallen heroes names on their back.

"I want people to go to our website and read the stories of these individuals, so they can understand who they are and what they are because ultimately that's what we are trying to do – we are trying to carry on their name. If they just know one. If they go there and just learn one, then we would have been successful."

The riders will complete their first leg of 126 miles to Mt Vernon on Wednesday night. They have raised more than $34,000 for scholarships in the names of the 34 fallen.

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