Since 2017, the Gold Star 500, an annual endurance cycling event, has honored the service and sacrifice of nearly 300 servicemen and women from Illinois who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gold Star Mission, a 501(c)3 organization, hosts the event to preserve the memory of those fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting and aiding people of foreign lands – people they likely never knew or met.
On Sept. 23, a team of primarily veterans and service member bicyclists will begin a 500-mile journey traveling through central, northwestern and northern Illinois. In past years they have traveled in southern and central Illinois. The five-day journey will take them through many of the communities where those fallen heroes served including towns such as Marseilles, Dwight, Pontiac, Bloomington/Normal, Peoria, Galesburg, the Quad Cities, Rock Falls, Rockford, Woodstock and St. Charles.
The intent of the ride is to carry the torch of personal sacrifice in honor of those service members, carry on their stories, their courage and to honor the legacy of their names.
Cycling for 500 miles in five days sounds daunting; the ride will be difficult and arduous. Each day the riders will experience the extreme discomfort of cycling great distances, but the discomfort is a reminder of the pain and suffering endured by those fallen service members, their Gold Star families, teammates and communities.
The riders start and finish the ride together, experience pain and joy together, exemplifying the military mentality of teamwork.
Gold Star Mission, through the Gold Star 500, raises funds through generous donations to help provide scholarships to help those in need and are named in honor of those servicemen and women, thus preserving their names forever.
Over the past two years, more than 60 – $1,000 scholarships have been awarded. To learn more about Gold Star Mission, the ride and how you can contribute to its
mission, go to goldstarmission.org.
You are welcome to cheer the riders on along their journey.
Source: Gold Star Mission