Redlands, Calif. — It is a rare opportunity for a community to stand together and applaud the efforts of the tireless men and women who fight for their freedom. It is an even rarer occurrence that they are able to witness selfless generosity that humbly thanks these men and women. The final day of the 2009 Redlands Bicycle Classic, presented by PossAbilities in partnership with CH& E Investments, gave the city of Redlands both. Chris Burnell, president, CH & E Investments presented three veterans with a $10,000 grant facilitated through PossAbilities to honor them for their heroic efforts overseas and the sacrifices they made that left them with a disability.
Davey Lind of Chino is a master sergeant that served in Desert Storm, Afghanistan and three tours in Iraq. Twenty-one months ago he was in a roadside bomb explosion that led to a bi-lateral amputation of his legs. Despites the incident, Lind has always kept himself going to be an example to the community and his family. “I’ve been doing adventures sports for the last 20 years, just in a military uniform,” said Lind. “I’m now looking at things I can do as I retire and move onto the civilian side of things.” Lind frequently golfs and stays active whenever he finds the time. With three children and one on the way in July, Lind strives to show his family how to keep going, no matter the circumstances.
Randell Leoncio was a hospital corpsman Third Class in the Navy — the medical for the Marine Corps. He served in Ramadi, Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2005, Leoncio was in a vehicle on a convoy when an IED resulted in an above the knee amputation. Despite the accident, Leoncio is an active athlete, snowboarding, handcycling and running. “There was a lot to get over when I came back,” said Leoncio. “You have to stay strong for your family. I was motivated to get back to walking, snowboarding. I had to make a choice: Are you going to be a party pooper, or are you going to live your life. I had a family to think of and my whole future.” Now, Leoncio works at Balboa Hospital in San Diego in C5 Primary Care as a health tech taking care of Marines and other soldiers.
Saul Martinez enlisted in the Army in 2006 and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 with the Third Infantry Division. About halfway into his tour an AV struck his vehicle, killing two of his close friends and making him a bilateral amputee. Martinez is married to his high school sweetheart with a six-month-old son. “Coming back to the States in the condition I was in had a lot of organizations reaching out to me asking how they could help,” said Martinez. “The support helped me learn to walk again and supported my wife, parents, in-laws and rest of my family. The hardest part was the fear of what was going to happen. The best things I can tell people in similar situations is that it will get better. Look to the future and imagine yourself walking with your wife or partner and it will be okay.” Martinez continues to be active through handcycling, running, surfing, snowboarding and other sports.
Burnell’s contribution will help each recipient with their futures as they move forward with their families. Starting when he was with the Sherriff’s Department, he has always strived to give back to those who need it, especially those who protect the country. “They’re fighting for us so we have our freedom,” said Burnell. “Everything that we have here today is because of them. I feel that we need to step up as businessmen in the community and help these people and their families.”
Burnell’s generosity resonated with each of the recipients, as well as the community. “This is completely overwhelming,” said Lind. “This is an amount of money that solves a lot of problems. For one individual to give that amount away; I just don’t even have the words for it.”
“There’s nothing that can describe this amount of generosity,” echoed Martinez. “I served my country because I’m a patriot and I love my country. This hand that was dealt to me was dealt to me for a reason. For someone to be this generous and thanking us for our services is just incredible.”