Cyclists ride through Rockies for first responders and veterans


Members of the Northwest Fire Velo Team met with Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey and Exit Realty agent Heidi Stahl on September 4 for snacks and water. They are completing a 1,600-mile ride to Colorado Springs where they will take part in the International Association of Firefighters Fallen Fire-Fighter Memorial services on September 21. Jean Schurman photo.

Last week, a group of firefighters from Bellevue, Washington, made their way through the valley on their way to Colorado Springs. This was a fundraiser for the Gary Sinese Foundation RISE program. This particular program is raising funds to help build adapted homes for injured veterans who have been accepted into the program. 

The Gary Sinise Foundation was founded by Gary Sinise, aka Lt. Dan from the movie “Forest Gump.” RISE stands for Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment. The houses they build are one-of-a-kind homes built for severely wounded veterans to help the veteran and their caregivers. Other programs include relief and resiliency, community outreach and education, and first responders outreach. 

The cyclists that rode through the valley were not only from Bellevue but also three from California, one from Missoula and one who rode over from Helena to participate. The Washington riders are members of the Northwest Fire Velo team, a cycling team. Tom Sowards is the director of the Washington chapter. He was excited to be involved in the ride which will be 1,600 miles long. Co-founder Rich Smith, from the Bellevue Fire Department, said they try to ride 90 miles a day for 21 days, then resting for a day before resuming the ride. 

Doug Terrien of Gig Harbor, Washington, was also on the ride. He is a lifelong friend of Max Coleman of Exit Realty who set up the rest stops here in the valley. Terrien was in an accident where he was run over while riding his bike and had 10 broken bones. Paramedic Kevin McIntyre was at the scene of Terrien’s accident and helped him. Terrien said he believes McIntyre “walks on water” and would do anything, including this ride for him. 

The group met at the Exit office in Stevensville for snacks and water before heading on to Hamilton and Coleman’s Sleeping Child Farms where they had a barbecue and spent the night.

For more information on this organization, visit or the Gary Sinise Foundation. 

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