COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- When Patricia Waiwood was denied her dream of joining the military to fight for our country she didn't give up or get disheartened. She forged a new path, one that will inspire and challenge us all to dust off our own dreams. Perhaps Patricia's strength comes from overcoming obstacles throughout her life, from having to find different ways to do even simple tasks that we all take for granted. Riding a bicycle seems like such an ordinary activity, but when Patricia rides, the ordinary becomes remarkable. Patricia was born missing her left hand, and not only is she not troubled by cycling one-handed, she is getting set to embark on another of her fearless long distance challenges, this time to raise awareness for the EOD Warrior Foundation.
The little girl who somberly watched Memorial Day parades and knew how to properly fold a flag grew up with an unwavering love for our country. So when Patricia finished college she attempted to join the branch she most admired, the Marines, but was rejected. So she tried the Navy, then the Air Force and lastly, the Army—all with the same result. Patricia took her fight to the Pentagon—twice. Unsuccessful and discouraged, but still undeterred, she dug deep and found a new way...made a new path. Patricia decided that if she can't serve in the military then she will serve those that do!
EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Technicians function in four branches of the military and are tasked with uncovering and disarming IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), neutralizing chemical weapons and even deactivating nuclear weapons! The Academy Award winning film, "The Hurt Locker", helped shed some light on the fearless EOD Technicians, but their critical and lifesaving work is often still not known to the average civilian. When our troops encounter IEDs, in particular, they can suffer catastrophic injuries leaving their lives forever changed. Sometimes the wounded may lose one or both legs, an arm, or even a hand. Patricia shares more than a glimpse of insight into what that means and how a life is altered. The EOD Warrior Foundation serves wounded EOD warriors and their families, and the families of fallen EOD warriors. Like Patricia's, their lives are anything but ordinary.
Patricia learned about EOD from Ohio's newly appointed Ambassador for the EOD Warrior Foundation, Rick Percy. Impressed by what she learned, Patricia became focused on raising awareness for the EOD Warrior Foundation and will ride from Ohio to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Her journey will begin at 8:00AM on the morning of October 27th at the Ohio Statehouse with plans to arrive at Eglin AFB on November 10. Her final stop will be at the EOD Memorial Wall to pay tribute to the EOD Warriors who have made the ultimate sacrifice while carrying out an EOD mission so we can be safe. Joining Patricia on the Ohio leg of her upcoming cycling trip will be Rick Percy. Patricia is intent on making her own path, raising awareness for the EOD Warrior Foundation and leaving a trail of inspiration for us all to aspire to. Please help support the EOD Warrior Foundation and Patricia in her upcoming quest: Ride to Support EOD Warrior Foundation-Ohio
Some Little Known Warriors Get A Voice In Ohio
Rick Percy from Lewis Center, Ohio is on a mission to make sure that Ohio learns the full EOD story and supports the warriors' selfless sacrifices to keep us safe while in the face of harrowing danger. Rick's mission started with a promise to a friend who was waging a deadly battle with an unseen enemy and a 200 mile bike ride.
Sometimes you meet someone that changes your life, where there is an unspoken trust and bond that endures and remains steadfast. With that person you can start a conversation and finish it six months later without missing a beat. Rick met Greg "Lou" Armstrong in 1981 while serving as Navy divers onboard the USS Tunny, a Fast Attack nuclear submarine. Lou cut a large, burly and imposing figure—seemingly an invincible force that no mere bomb could penetrate. He stayed fit bike riding and grew to love the sport. Time passed, but the two remained close friends though their lives veered in opposite directions. Rick returned to Ohio and successfully transitioned to the private sector while Lou made a career of the Navy in EOD, rising to the highest enlisted rank of Master Chief, E-9, before retiring in 2000. Lou lived in Maryland and stayed active in the EOD community participating in endurance bike events. But in 2013, Lou was faced with his biggest challenge—pancreatic cancer. It slowed, but did not stop him.
Riding a bike for endless hours can put you in a trance-like state while you roll mile after mile—tuning in or tuning out, sometimes with aching joints, cramping, and not to mention hunger, thirst and unbearable fatigue. Rick wasn't always a devoted rider, but that changed in October of 2014. Lou was signed up to ride in the EOD Warrior Gulf Coast Ride to benefit the EOD Warrior Foundation. It was a 200 mile trek in Florida from Niceville to Panama City and back again! Lou's health was faltering; the cancer was getting stronger. It would have made sense to opt out of the race altogether, but quitting was not in Lou's genetic makeup. Rick instinctively knew what he needed to do. He got in his truck and drove to Florida vowing to ride with his friend, determined to help Lou fulfill his goal. The cycling was grueling, but Rick matched his speed and distance to the needs of his friend, completing the 200 miles in about 2 days.
In addition to spending precious hours with his best friend, Rick met the EOD community—a group that impressed him with their strength, humility and sacrifice. After the ride Lou was approved for the position of EOD Warrior Foundation Ambassador for the state of Maryland. Sadly though, Lou passed away only months after receiving this honor. It seemed only right that Rick should pick up the torch. So Rick applied for and was appointed as the EOD Warrior Foundation Ambassador for the state of Ohio.
Rick has pledged to support the EOD community and wants everyone in Ohio to get to know the EOD Warrior Foundation and help to support the Foundation's mission. Rick is a warrior in his own right with a full-on attitude and personality to match. Cycling is now one of his passions, using it to push his physical and mental boundaries, accelerating up hills and sailing past other, sometimes younger, riders. He thumbs his nose at aching joints and aging muscles and with a smile he gives a silent nod to his unseen biking companion, Lou Armstrong.
Please pledge your support to the EOD Warrior Foundation: Support EOD Warrior Foundation-Ohio
More About EOD and the EOD Warrior Foundation
There are approximately 7000 men and women serving as EOD Technicians in the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. They are highly trained military members who are responsible for disarming, rendering safe, and disposing of bombs, and provide support to the most complex special operations missions. EOD warriors carry out the most dangerous job in the military. Bombs known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) cause most of the fatalities and severe injuries to our troops. EOD technicians sustain some of the most severe and life-changing injuries including loss of limbs, burns, paralysis, blindness and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs). Many EOD warriors may experience Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).
Inpatient and outpatient care is needed for recovery and rehabilitation which is often extensive as well as expensive. Care can last months to years, taking a significant emotional and financial toll on the injured EOD warrior and their family.
The EOD Warrior Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and serves the EOD community by providing financial assistance and support to active-duty and veteran wounded, injured or ill EOD warriors, families of our wounded and fallen EOD warriors and by maintaining the EOD Memorial Wall at Eglin Air Force Base. EOD Warrior Foundation support includes emergency financial relief, morale events, peer-to-peer support, educational programs, connections to resources and sustained contact with EOD warriors and their families.
The EOD community needs our help; please pledge your support today. Your support enables wounded EOD warriors and their families, and families of fallen EOD warriors to face the future with hope, knowing they are not alone, as they forge a new life and ensure the EOD heroes who make the ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten. The foundation believes that the EOD family is for life. Our ongoing mission is to disarm the challenges of the EOD family by providing our support with compassion and caring to every individual we serve.
Please review the links below to learn more about the EOD Warrior Foundation and the critical role the EOD Technicians play in our ongoing military conflicts.
Follow Tricia's ride:
Rick Percy, EOD Ohio Ambassador
Karen Harris, Media Contact
SOURCE EOD Warrior Foundation