The Face of America Ride and Booz Allen’s Spirit of Service
Have you ever been talked into something that changed your life for the better? I have! In 2011 I casually agreed to a colleague’s prompting to join a Firm-sponsored bike ride. The next thing I knew, I owned a bike and began training - only 3 weeks prior - for the 110 mile World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Face of America Ride, an event honoring America’s disabled veterans and the American Spirit.
Fast forward to today: The Face of America Ride is a big part of my life. Each year my friends and family anticipate receiving my fundraising email asking for their support. 2014 marks the 4th time I’ve participated, and colleagues on my team have come to expect that I’ll ask them to train with me for the ride each year. But when I look back to the difficulty of my first ride, I find it astounding that I even returned as a participant. The first year I completed the Face of America Ride it rained incessantly. It was chilly, but the rain made the day feel freezing. My meager three weeks’ worth of training meant that the 110-mile ride was a significant physical challenge. But despite all this, the experience of the ride was so amazing that I did not hesitate to sign up again – and again. And, luckily, all the years that have followed have included sunny skies!
One of my most powerful memories of the ride is from this past April. A veteran participating in the ride frequently encountered riders who asked if he needed help up the hilly terrain. When I had an opportunity to talk with him he said, “I don’t want help.” He was committed to completing the ride by himself, under his own power. He told me that to him it would not be an accomplishment if he didn’t finish the ride independently. At that moment I witnessed the resiliency and resolve of our veterans and remembered why the ride is so important to me.
Following the 2014 ride I learned that World T.E.A.M. Sports needed help creating an event playbook to support the coordination of the annual event from the Pentagon to Gettysburg, and as a resource allowing the event to be replicated in other cities. My Booz Allen colleagues and I have volunteered our services to create this tool. Over the next few months as skills-based volunteers we will interview event coordinators and document all aspects of the ride with the hope that many others will have an opportunity to experience what I have.
My participation in World T.E.A.M Sports’ Face of America Ride is just one of many opportunities for community involvement at the firm. This year marks Booz Allen’s 100th anniversary. To celebrate, firm staff are working towards the goal of recording 100,000 volunteer hours in the communities where we live and work. I’m proud to work for a company that continuously raises awareness of how we can make a difference and demonstrate our spirit of service.