River House Veterans Give Back When Tragedy Hits

It’s been 8 long months since I posted here on my River House website. Eight months ago, tragedy struck our lives when Todd fell off the roof and broke his neck, causing him to become an incomplete quadriplegic (C3-5) . Todd and I have been very busy trying to learn how to navigate our new lives and putting a tremendous amount of money and time into rehab, therapy, etc. trying to help him gain as much back as possible. I had to put my veterans and my outings on hold for a good half a year until I could finally come up for air.

We recently had our first event and enjoyed a delightful campfire dinner with a nice group of our favorite veterans. (pictured below). In the meantime, some of my guys have stepped up to really support us. A favorite, Dan Stein (one of the heroes in my last book, “Walking Toward Peace- Veterans Healing on America’s Trails,) has very generously offered to come up to our home very Sunday and work with Todd. Dan is taking his knowledge of working out, weights, muscle groups etc., and has Todd on a special weight training program so he can regain his strength back. Dan also spends a great amount of time stretching him beforehand. It is a good thing that Danny is so strong! It is so good for Dan to have the opportunity to share his knowledge and expertise, his experiences in rehab, and his big heart with Todd. The two have a fabulous relationship.

A few of the guys have considered that River House’s Director (that would be me) needs a break from full time caregiving, so Ryan Aulman took me mountain biking across the Blue Mountain and then climbed the Port Clinton Fire Tower for a breathtaking view. It was just what I needed. Mario Kovach came down from NY state to visit and to help and take me cycling on the Schuylkill River Trail while he rode his new toy- a single wheel. Annie and Mike Schnur, my dear Board Members, made a great dinner for Todd and I and then Annie took me kayaking on beautiful Leaser Lake. They have a great handicap accessible launch there which we are eying up for Todd down the pike.

Todd and I hosted a retired EOD veteran, friend of Mario’s Bo Brickley, who we brought home and fed etc. as he was thru-hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, with his friend. Bo is the first veteran that I know of who read my book and decided that hiking was for him and went for it in a big way. Bo is closing in on finishing now as he recently entered the last state of Maine.

River House also sponsored our first veteran to long distance hike, Adam Perry, who went down to Georgia and began hiking north on the AT- he got quite a few hundred miles under his belt before he had to return home unexpectedly but it was enough to make him fall in love with the sport and realize how much it can heal.

So we are getting our feet wet back in the activities and events with our River House veterans. A big one coming up is the first weekend of October when we rent out the Boy Scout Camp in New Ringgold and offer a full weekend of outdoor fun and camping to our vets and their families.

Ryan Aulman taking me on a mountain bike ride across the Blue Mountain to the Port Clinton Fire Tower, to give me a much needed break from care-taking.

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