More than 100 participants turned out for the 3rd Annual Operation Pedal Express, a benefit to send packages to troops in combat zones, Saturday morning.
This year’s event added a new option, Operation Special Delivery, a 5K walk/run before the bicycle ride got underway.
The event was hosted by the American Legion.
Among those participating in the walk were Sgt. Christopher West and Capt. Paul Stankich. They led the walk/run at the start wearing their full combat gear, minus the kevlar.
“Anytime we see they are sending packages to soldiers (we want to help),” said Stankich. “It’s not like we have to, we want to. We just like helping our own.”
The two work in the recruiting center in Wichita, which serves the El Dorado area.
“It was really pretty much a road march,” Stankich said.
While it’s not something they do in recruiting, both Stankich and West are infantrymen so it was a previous way of life for them.
Stankich also was joined by his wife, who was pushing their two children in the walk.
Another honored guest in the walk was Master Sgt. Tim Chabot of El Dorado, who was there with his wife Shannon and their daughters, Jada and Makayla.
Tim was friends with Judith Haffner, organizer of the Packages to War program and that is how he learned about it.
“It comes back to supporting troops,” he said.
Chabot is active duty and recently returned from a deployment to Kurdistan, and Shannon also served, as well as other family members.
“We are very active military,” Shannon said.
The girls have even gotten involved, helping pack the packages for the troops.
Jada said she liked putting everything in the boxes, while Makayla’s favorite part was mailing the boxes.
Each group was welcomed to El Dorado and the event Saturday.
“Recent events in Boston remind us how fragile our freedoms are,” Haffner said in her welcome to the groups. “The purpose of the event is to help provide supplies to our troops who are on the front lines.”
She thanked the military personnel, veterans and first responders for their service.
“This is a very important event for everyone who is here and overseas,” American Legion Riders President Sean Robinson told the participants.
The riders also were welcomed by Mayor Mike Fagg, who thanked them for volunteering and welcomed them to El Dorado.
Page 2 of 2 - This year, the American Legion Auxiliary will package their 1,000th care package.