SUMMIT, NJ - While President Obama is slowly pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, there are still many in the Middle East fighting for their country. It has been 12 years since 9/11, but the men and women fighting overseas still need the support of people in America. One organization that helps soldiers is Bonds of Courage and on Saturday, they held their first Cycle for Courage at the Summit YMCA.
According to its website, “Bonds of Courage is a non-profit organization honoring the courage and commitment of the armed service personnel who serve in the military, wherever they are stationed, wherever they are from, in times of both peace and war. Just as importantly, we support the military families left behind and the veterans who are struggling to cope with re-entry to civilian life.” The organization has relationships with all branches of the military and helps soldiers find jobs, with suicide prevention, health and counseling.
Bonds of Courage was founded by Summit resident Christine Truhe in 2004, after her son Michael received orders for his first deployment to Iraq. She understood the impact his service would have on his family and quickly launched a major community-wide effort. She started by sending care boxes overseas and it grew bigger each year with more donations and volunteers.
“It means so much to the troops that American people are behind them,” she said.
Truhe said a volunteer came up with the idea to hold the cycling fundraiser and it was well-attended. With three very good spin instructors and a gracious host, Truhe was thankful for all of the help she received Saturday.
“It was fabulous for a first event,” she said.
There were three back-to-back 45 minute classes and anyone could participate, no matter what their experience. Participants raised money by getting sponsors for their ride and prizes were awarded to top fundraisers. Also, if people couldn’t ride, they were able to show their support by making a donation or sponsoring another rider.
Jen McCallum, whose sister Katherine helped organize the event, participated in spinning for the first time and loved it. She said it was a bit challenging, but it was for the troops, so it was worth it.
“I thought it was such a great cause, so I might as well come out and support the troops for 45 minutes on a bike,” McCallum said.
Summit native and New York City resident Lauren Weber said she does spinning about once a week, but returned to NJ on Saturday to support her friends, the Truhes.
“I thought it was a great event,” Weber said.