Pedal Express draws crowd

Citizens were walking, running and bicycling Saturday morning, all to support troops.
They were taking part in the 4th annual Operation Pedal Express and  Operation Special Delivery, which began and ended at East Park in El Dorado.
“I thought it went very well for being right in front of Easter,” said Gary Smith, organizer.
He said there were just under 100 participants. The runners took part in a 5K, while the cyclists could choose from a seven-mile, 25-mile or 50-mile ride.
“I had several people who want to be e-mailed when it comes back next year,” he said.
The event raised money for two programs. The first is the American Legion’s Packages to War, which sends packages to troops deployed to combat zones. This year’s event also raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project based out of Topeka.
Among those participating in the 5K was Sgt. Kevin Hensley, who is stationed with the Wounded Warrior Transition Battalion at Ft. Riley, along with his wife, Angela.
“My wife participates in a lot of 5Ks,” Kevin said. “When she told me about this one I wanted to be a part of it.”
Angela also was excited to be a part of this event.
“I wanted to do this in honor of him today,” she said of her husband. “This one was for him.”
“I enjoyed meeting the people that are involved and meeting the different participants here,” Kevin added.
He also enjoyed spending the time with his wife.
Kevin, who will be retiring on April 24, was with the Kansas National Guard’s 778th Transportation Company and has been with the Warrior Transition program since 2011.
“The Wounded Warrior program is such an amazing program,” he said. “It does wonderful things for our soldiers who gave up a lot of sacrifices and time with families.
“We have benefited from the Wounded Warrior Project the last 2 1/2 years,” Kevin continued. “It helped our relationship and marriage and helps us build stronger relationships with others.”
After participants returned to East Park, they were treated to lunch provided by Carrabba’s, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and entertainment by Elvis, along with massages by Art of Life Chiropractic.
Smith said Elvis was a big hit and Virginia Ball even received a signed scarf.
Joe Parten, owner of Carrabba’s, said they were happy to provide the food.
“I think it’s a very good cause,” he said. “We are in business and doing business in the community. It is good to give back to the community.
“We do anything we can to support our troops and local law enforcement and civil servants.”
As part of the event a ghost bicycle was set up at about 85th Street South on Highway 77. It was in honor of Roger Joyce, who was killed in that area in a bicycle accident.

Julie Clements can be reached at