When it comes to El Tour de Tucson, cyclists come from everywhere. Of the more…
Stu Carter and Ken Kingsley are heroes. They may not feel that way, but they are given their work to help fellow military veterans stay in shape and have a life beyond the indoors.
They give the veterans a life on the road sometimes never imagined. Literally.
“We (VeloVets Sierra Vista), have a huge positive following within, and respect from the VVSV membership, local veterans, the military at Ft Huachuca, the local city government and population,” said Carter, the president and CEO of VVSV. “I served as the vice chairman then Chairman of the Greater Sierra Vista United Veterans Council, comprised of over 35 Veterans Support organizations, for 6.5 years. We have two active-duty Army members from Ft Huachcua. One rides a handcycle.”
It’s a reason why we love VeloVets Sierra Vista here at Perimeter Bicycling and El Tour de Tucson. VeloVets Sierra Vista is the proud beneficiary of the inaugural El Tour de Zona next March.
A motto of VeloVets Sierra Vista is: Riding and being together to improve Veteran’s health and well-being!
El Tour couldn’t agree more.
And kudos to Carter and Kingsley who felt a need to get the vets out and about four years ago.
“We get them off of their couches, get them onto recumbent trikes or tandems and have physical activity, mental stimulation and camaraderie thru riding bikes twice each week in Sierra Vista,” their website says.
It all started a few years back when Carter knew Rich Laszok and found out Laszok was losing his vision.
Carter said, “he’d always wanted to ride a bike with me sometime.”
Eventually, they did, getting together on a tandem bike. And Laszok loved it.
Carter also had a friend – Mark Lazarcheff – who had had a stroke and was paralyzed on the left side of this body. Carter built a tri-recumbent for him.
In March of 2017, Lazarcheff received a newer recumbent and rode 2.4 miles the first time. A few months later, he cycled in RAGBRAI, riding 10 miles a day for three days.
“He got very excited and had a great time,” Carter said. “He was happy with his accomplishment.”
Carter and Laszok rode 411 miles in the Iowa ride on a Carter-built tandem bicycle.
“He was so excited,” Carter said.
Because of the two – VeloVets Sierra Vista was created.
Both are still around, enjoying their rides. The organization has grown to about 19 cyclists with 12 of them getting ready to participate in the annual RAGBRAI Ride in Iowa.
“The organization is growing,” Carter said. “There’s a definite need. If you can go from two disabled vets to 19 the need is there. We even grew membership during COVID when there was no riding. People heard about us.”
The group rides twice a week (Wednesday & Saturday) as long, far and as fast/slow as cyclists desire. No rider is left behind.
The operate on raised funds, donations and grants. For more information on VeloVets Sierra Vista visit: Veteran’s Health – Velo Vets Sierra Vista AZ