9/11 Freedom Ride

A 24-hour tribute to heroes

by Lucia Viti

The Douglas J. Green Memorial Foundation hosted its third annual 24-hour cycle, 9/11 Freedom Ride on September 11, 2015, to honor America’s military and 9/11 heroes. The foundation, established by Suni Chabrow-Erlanger as a tribute to her son, Spc. Douglas J. Green, a 23-year old Army soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2011, distributes care packages to service members deployed overseas. The 2015 Las Vegas event raised over $30,000. 

The 9/11 tribute touted over 200 pop-on-and-off, any-time riders while 34 pedaled for 24-hours. LeAnna Marchese, the foundation’s COO and the ride’s lead instructor, rallied participants through musically themed and DJ-driven rides with glow sticks, light-up balloons, snack and drink tables galore and air mattresses, just in case. Riders who rode 24-hours were treated to pizza for dinner, Chinese food take-out at 3 a.m. and breakfast pancakes. Marchese admitted that because it’s hard to get people to show up at 1 a.m., the hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. are pedaled solely by 24-hour riders. 

“The 9/11 Freedom Ride is our largest and fastest growing fundraiser,” says the fitness pro. “What began in a gym three years ago now takes place in a concert hall to accommodate its riders. Five years from now, I’d like to see the event large enough to take place on the strip.”

Lynn Diaz, a fitness enthusiast from Oceanside, Calif. traveled across state lines to ride because, “Freedom isn’t free. Countless men and women have sacrificed their lives while others continue to fight for our freedoms,” she says. “Riding is my way of saying thank you! As the daughter of a retired veteran, military pride runs in my blood.”
The second year 24-hour rider also noted that cycling for 24 hours isn’t about being the fastest or the strongest. “Personal fitness is about mentally pushing yourself beyond your limits,” she said. “Being fit means doing things you never thought possible, like riding a cycle bike for 24 hours.”

Chabrow described sending ‘Care Packages’ as a natural evolution to commemorate the legacy of Doug’s patriotic sacrifice. Green was infamous for sharing his mom’s three-a-week care packages with his unit ‘brothers,’ including those whose family members couldn’t afford to do the same. According to Chabrow, nothing means more to those deployed in the world’s most dangerous crevices than knowing that America’s thinking about them. 

“Our ‘We-Care’ packages represent the United States of America,” she says. “Our packages boost morale. One-hundred percent of the ride’s proceeds pay for contents and shipping costs; we receive no government assistance. While money donations are great—we appreciate every cent—The 9/11 Freedom Ride is like no other experience. When people push themselves through their comfort zones to make a difference, it’s enlightening.”

Chabrow explains that the event takes place on 9/11 as a “tribute to the men and women who died in those towers as well as those who serve, like my son Doug, and sacrifice their lives so that we can be free.”

 “Many who watched the Twin Towers collapse wanted to do something but didn’t know what to do,” continues Marchese. “I balled up my anger with my patriotism and rolled it into teaching.  The 9/11 Freedom Ride is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.”
The Care Packages contain toiletries such as wipes used for ‘showering,’ and a wide array of munchies including Whoa! Toffee and sweet snacks from Chabrow’s online retail store.

“These men and women are hungry,” says Chabrow. “They eat MRE’s (Meals Ready To Eat) or what I call food in a tube. Doug would skype and say, “Mom I’m hungry, I’m hungry. So I sent the most amazing, glorious care packages filled with his favorite treats. When he was killed by an RPG during night patrol, sending care packages to troops at risk abroad made sense to honor his legacy.” 

The nonprofit namesake foundation honors all requests for sending any deployed family members and friends care packages. For more information on participating or teaching for the 2016, 9/11 Freedom Ride please contact www.douglasjgreenmemorialfoundation.org.
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