My name is Steve Hughes, I am a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant, having served 28 years active duty.  In the fall of 2018, 19 September to 19 November 2018, I rode my bicycle from San Diego, CA to Jacksonville, FL.  Here is my story, and I hope you will continue to join me on this journey.  My actual cross country ride may be over, but my journey and my “ride” will continue, won’t you “ride” with me?!

I have always been an avid cyclist, having ridden all over the world, and also as part of the Air Force cycling team that rides in the RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) one  year.  Before I retired from the Air Force, I injured my back while serving, and had to undergo a series of back surgeries.  Due to a mistake by the surgeon, I lost the use of my lower left leg and foot. I have to wear a brace to walk. Not being able to run anymore, it was even more important for me to be able to ride.  I can get on a bike without my brace, and I feel “normal” again.  Since retiring, I have devoted my life to helping others, and motivating others to never give up.  I do this various ways, but the most effective way is through my own actions, showing others that despite our physical limitations, we can still do things, we can still achieve, and we can still be productive and active in our lives. In 2005 I rode my bicycle from Maine to Florida for the charity, Homes for our Troops, and when I completed that ride, I vowed to do it again, but from coast to coast.

On January 25th, 2018, I turned 60.  I thought that not only can I motivate people and inspire people because of my own “disability”, but also because of my age.  I want people to be able to look at me and think, “wow, he is 60 and disabled and look, he is riding across America!”  I don’t expect anyone to ride across country, but maybe it is simply getting out of bed, taking an extra step, walking around the block, standing against their challenge! That is just one reason for riding, inspiring others and continuing to prove to myself that I can still keep pushing forward.  The other reason is because I have always been one to find ways to give back to society, and specifically my association with Veterans. For this ride, I chose to ride for 3 veteran organizations.  I rode for the Travis Mills Foundation, The Air Force Enlisted Village, and Project Hero.  All three of these organizations have had a personal impact on me, and I was so honored and proud to have been able to raise money and awareness for them on this journey.  You can find out more info on these organizations by following the links below: www.travismills.org/foundation/. , www.afev.us, http://weareprojecthero.org.

I completed my ride using the Adventure Cycling Network Southern Route.  I was supported by my amazing wife, Deborah. This was a journey that changed me in so many ways.  It made me stronger; allowed me to see things I would never have seen from the front seat of a car at 65 mph; made me face fears and challenges head on; allowed me to meet and make new friends along the way; and further inspired me to continue this great work of encouraging and motivating others!  Please stay with me as we continuing “riding” on this journey along this path of discovery and fulfillment! Thank you for all the support I have received along the way!

Steve Hughes, CMSgt (r)