3,700-mile ‘Warrior Ride’ stops Saturday to honor Bloomington’s fallen soldier | Local News
NORMAL – To U.S. Army veteran Kyle Bigue, his friend and fellow warrior Sgt. Anthony Maddox was the bravest guy he had ever known.
Bigue continued his efforts to keep his name alive on Saturday by stopping in Maddox’s hometown of Bloomington-Normal as part of a coast-to-coast bike trip. The Concord, New Hampshire man left Boston on April 29 to cycle 3,700 miles to Coronado, California on June 18.
Maddox died aged 22 in 2013 after most of his body was burned in an accident in Andar, Afghanistan. Bigue said it was the hardest thing he had seen in his entire life.
Bigue, 33, participates in the Warrior Ride as part of The Ultimate Sacrifice Foundation. Another of their mission is to help raise awareness of post-traumatic stress and suicidal ideation faced by the United States military, veterans, and Gold Star Family communities.
Ceremony planned to rename part of I-55 for the fallen soldier
TUSF CEO Mike Doody said they are organizing other community healing engagements, as well as meetings.
Bigue told the Pantagraph he was living with PTSD, adding that “it takes its toll on your life.” He also said that it is difficult to ask others for help because they feel lonely after leaving the service.
Since he knows firsthand what it’s like to suffer, Bigue said he couldn’t sit idly by. He said part of the TUSF’s mission is to connect service members and veterans to treatment centers and prevent suicides.
After summoning himself for a pit stop in Towanda, Bigue was escorted to a lunch at Medici in Normal by several other veterans, Bloomington and Normal firefighters, and Normal police.
Normal police officers Evan Easter and Charles Cowley facilitated the escort. Easter said he was part of the May 2019 escort that dedicated a section of Interstate 55 in Maddox’s honor. He then added that the continued efforts to honor the fallen soldier were “incredible”.
Members of the Bloomington Goodfellas motorcycle club have also ridden with Bigue, including a Vietnam veteran named T. Wolf. He said he understood Bigue’s pain because he had lost a son.
So when things go wrong, Wolf said his club have each other’s backs and will extend that to veterans when needed. He said they also rode in May 2019 for Maddox, and it was important for them to do it again.
Normal Mayor Chris Koos and Bloomington Ward 2 Council Member and Pro-Tem Mayor Donna Boelen also attended the luncheon.
Koos said the recognition of Maddox’s service is important, and also noted that the Warrior Ride is symbolic for others who have gone unrecognized in such events.
“It is important that we recognize the work these people have done in sacrificing their country,” he said.
Boelen said she was a “strong supporter” of the military, and returning servicemen must show they “have our support.”
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A perfect smile
Bigue said connecting with Maddox’s family for the ride filled his heart, as they swapped stories of time with Maddox during and before he served.
He also said it was a “life-changing” moment and he had never felt so much love in his entire life.
Bigue said he remembered Maddox as “the most generous, heartwarming guy you’ve ever met in your life.
“(He) makes everyone feel at home.”
Mother Frances Maddox told the Pantagraph that her family shares Bigue’s mission to keep her son’s name alive.
She said Anthony Maddox had a “perfect smile”. Additionally, he loved football and coaching, and helped his friends achieve their physical goals with his leadership skills.
She said her son had a close brotherhood with his military colleagues. She added that he excels at what he does and plans to go to Ranger school.
“He was going to make a career out of it,” she said.
Frances Maddox said Bigue’s Warrior Ride eased the healing process and helped them realize they had an extended family with the veterans.
Those interested in contributing to TUSF can donate online at ultimatesacrificefoundation.org or text “Warrior” to 801801.
Contact Brendan Denison at (309) 820-3238. Follow Brendan Denison on Twitter: @BrendanDenison