Army veteran to bike from Fort Drum to Mississippi to raise funds for wounded soldier

By GORDON BLOCK | Watertown Daily Times, N.Y. | Published: September 2, 2012

EVANS MILLS — In an attempt to bring attention to wounded soldiers and raise funds for a wounded National Guardsman, local veteran Terry Barnes will bike more than 1,300 miles from Fort Drum to Camp Shelby, Miss.

Starting his ride Saturday from the post’s gate, the self-described warrior plans on making the trek in 20 days or less.

“Once you become a warrior, ain’t nothing can change that. It’s within you,” Mr. Barnes said. “When a warrior sets out to do something, he’s going to do it.”

Mr. Barnes, 51, had served on post from May 2008 until this past Monday, when he officially retired from the Army as a staff sergeant.

He said he plans on surprising a wounded National Guard soldier, whom he had spoken to briefly a few times before and whose injuries will lead to exit from the service.

He said he hopes to raise a couple of hundred thousand dollars to help the soldier pay bills and put his child through school.

“I know this guy needs help,” Mr. Barnes said.

Since 2010, he had been on Fort Drum’s 3rd Battalion, 85th Mountain Infantry Regiment, also known as the Warrior Transition Unit, recovering from back injuries first suffered in a mortar attack in Iraq in 2008, and reinjured in 2010 while in Afghanistan. In 2010, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which has left him with numbness and weakness in his left side.

Mr. Barnes, who originally served in the U.S. Army from 1979 to 1986, rejoined the military following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was angry.

Closing up a successful masonry and construction business he operated in Hattiesburg, Miss., he was back in uniform less than two weeks later.

“Half of the guys I fired still want to kill me,” Mr. Barnes said.

The mechanic, who served in the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Brigade Combat Team while at Fort Drum, completed three deployments since re-enlisting.

He first got into biking in 2010 while at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., when he formed a bike team at nearby Fort Belvoir and received a donated Centurion road bike.

Readying himself to leave, he acknowledged that there may be a few loose ends in his plan. He said he hadn’t talked to anybody at Camp Shelby, where he served before coming to Fort Drum, about his trip. He couldn’t recall the first name of the soldier he is attempting to help.

He also hasn’t talked to his neurologist about any risks of doing the trip. His previous longest ride was about 160 miles, the distance of a round trip between Evans Mills and Syracuse.

Mr. Barnes said his medical woes were a “small hindrance,” which would lead to him to take more breaks on the road. He said his plan was ride for two days straight, then rest for a day.

While that might seem like a cause for concern, he said his wife, Alisa, and three children, Lakeisha, 17, Denzel, 16, and Kammika, 15, have been supportive of his trip.

“They don’t worry about that,” Mr. Barnes said. “They know Dad takes care of himself.”

Setting up a website to collect donations, Mr. Barnes said Kammika will be blogging updates about his trip as he makes his way south.

Into the future, he said he hoped to continue raising money for wounded soldiers, particularly those in the National Guard.

However, Mr. Barnes may need a new set of wheels for future rides.

After completing the ride, he said he planned on raising more money by auctioning his bike.

More information about the ride and how to donate to Mr. Barnes can be found at www.liftupawarriornow.com.

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