Wounded Veterans Make Cross-Country Motorcycle Ride


Eight wounded U.S. veterans took part in the Road Warrior Ride, a cross-county motorcycle ride put on by the Road Warrior Foundation. The Road Warrior Foundation is an organization that strives to give wounded veterans memorable adventures.

Each stop along the way was made a community event to raise awareness about the great strides these veterans have made before and since being injured. Co-founder of the Road Warrior Ride, Craig Anders, spoke on the difficulties injured veterans face by reliving his own experience. He said, “The hardest thing was finding my purpose in life (after being injured)…being able to go out and do things that made me feel free and independent of other people and to regain the self-esteem and sense of purpose I lost.”

The cycles ridden by the veterans this year were the Can-Am Spyder Roadster. Since some of the veterans riding this year have lost limbs, this three-wheeled motorcycle gives riders the ability to operate it without having to use their feet to shift or brake. The company that makes the Spyders, BRP, lent all the vehicles for free. BRP has raised over $100,000, which has gone to funding the Road Warrior Ride.

Photo courtesy of BRP.com

A group of riders gather around a Can-Am Spyder Roadster. Photo courtesy of brp.com.

The 2015 ride lasted eight days and covered more than 2,000 miles. Starting in Sherbrooke, Quebec, the Road Warrior Ride passed through many towns and cities along the east coast. Last year, the ride started in Seattle, Washington and ended in Tampa, Florida.

Rider Phillip Vaughn said about the ride, “I never thought I’d be doing something like this, ever.” Most of the riders have not before seen sights as beautiful as the ones on the Road Warrior Ride route. Their path included rides through the Mt. Washington Auto Road and the Kancamagus Highway. The planners of the route made sure to pick the most scenic route and avoided most major highways.

Photo courtesy of  Road Warrior Foundation

Riders and crew stop for a break along the scenic route. Photo courtesy of Road Warrior Foundation.

The Road Warrior Ride concluded in Key West, Florida on June 12, 2015. The riders who participated this year are Jesus Vasquez Jr., Patrick Wickens, Michael Bennett, Bobby Withers, Kathy Champion, Phillip Vaughn, Sammy Lugo, and Michael Paul.

John Ridlehoover

Contact: jridlehoover@vahomeloancenters.org

John is a professional writer at VA Home Loan Centers with experience writing for several different online publications. He has written on subjects ranging from political news to music and movie reviews. John earned his B.A. in Professional Writing at Lander University. Born in Angeles City, Philippines, he has lived in Japan, South Carolina, Alaska, and Washington. He currently lives in San Diego, Ca with his feisty Yorkie mix.

VA Home Loan Centers helps veterans, active duty military, and dependents receive their much deserved VA home loan benefits. In most states, property tax exemption is available for disabled veterans. To apply for a VA home loan, please visit www.vahomeloancenters.org.

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Guest blog featuring veterans this Thursday!

I’m excited to announce that Follow that Leader will feature its first guest blog this Thursday!

It’s no secret that I’m a huge supporter of the U.S. military and all the men and women who serve this country. In fact, my barber is a veteran, my car salesman is a veteran, and my wife and I recently hired a company to remodel our bathroom, which is of course owned and operated by veterans. In addition, I have childhood friends who serve and even coworkers who serve, or have served. Look back on my first Leader Spotlight that featured an active duty soldier!

The guest blog post is by John Ridlehoover, who is a writer for VA Home Loan Centers. John’s post will tell the story of eight veterans who made a cross-country motorcycle ride.

Be sure to check back on Thursday!

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Watch – TEDxColumbusWomen 2015

Back in May I had the opportunity to volunteer at TEDxColumbusWomen 2015 held at the Southern Theater in downtown Columbus, Ohio. My company is headquartered in nearby Dublin and offers financial and operational support to the event, along with other TEDxColumbus events.

If I’m going to be completely honest with you, I’ll admit that I thought the program might be extremely biased toward the female gender. Mostly “girl power” subjects, if you will. While I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I was completely wrong!

Each and every speaker (and entertainer) that took the stage was nothing short of remarkable and astounding. I quickly learned that many of the issues that were being presented didn’t only affect women, but instead affect people of all genders, races, age groups and just about any other demographic you can come up with. And there were two male presenters!

From transgender issues to sexual assault on college campuses, to why women are important in the tech industry, I’m confident that you will be blown away and probably enlightened by the material covered at TEDxColumbusWomen 2015.

Check out the YouTube playlist below! I know it’s summer, but I urge you to take some time to watch each video, and I challenge you to actually think about the topic and consider how it might affect you.

Oh, and if you’re a fan of Orange is the New Black, don’t miss Piper Kerman’s (Chapman) husband, Larry Smith, deliver a presentation about his Six Word project! Or just watch it because it’s totally awesome.



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Once a Coach, Always a Coach : Scott Thornberry

“This one is for you, coach!”

The quote above was shouted by a runner as he prepared for a race at a track meet I recently attended. But this wasn’t just any track meet. It was the last home meet for the season at my high school alma mater, and it was the last home meet for the coach as he is retiring after 36 years of service to the East Liverpool City School District.

I’m proud to say that I ran for coach Scott Thornberry during my time in high school; four years of track & field and 3 years of cross-country. I was also a student in his health and physical education classes. At certain times of the year it’s possible that I saw him more than my own parents!


Coach Thornberry (aka T-Berry, Scott or simply coach) and his retirement was featured in the local newspaper (The Review), but I want to tell you about him from my point of view, a point of view that I’m sure is shared with many of the athletes he has coached.

  • Coach Thornberry is the sort of person who is always there. I mean physically ALWAYS there. I don’t recall ever having a substitute for his classes. He definitely never missed a practice or meet, and even at the meets it seemed like he was never hard to find. He somehow managed to cover the field events and running events, effortlessly. If you weren’t sure where he was you knew he’d be easy to spot because he would be dressed head to toe in Potter Blue, or if it was raining he would be wearing his yellow rain gear (or banana suit as some of us liked to call it).
  • He is the type of coach that made everybody feel that they belonged. It didn’t matter what your skill level was (that’s what practice was for). Every team member had an event to compete in come the day of a meet. I enjoyed the meets that didn’t have restrictions on relay teams. Sometimes we would have three or four teams competing. He always put his athletes first. You could tell that winning wasn’t everything (trust me, we lost our fair share of meets), but he was instead focused on the condition of his team and what was in our best interest. He never made it about himself.
  • Coach Thornberry is the type of coach that truly cares about the well-being of his athletes. He would make sure you warmed up and stretched before races. He would continuously ask how you were feeling during cross-country races. When I had severe shin splints he introduced me to bucket of ice. He would grab an athletic training textbook and say, “Here, look at the pictures. I’ll see you in 10 minutes.” I can also remember hearing him yell, “How ya feeling, Jas? Be strong now!” His words of encouragement pulled me through many races.

Attending his very last home meet is a memory I’ll always treasure. Being able to see him lead others the way he once lead me and my teammates was amazing. What bothers me is that I probably didn’t appreciate it as much back then as I do now. There was a moment during the meet while I was talking to his wife, Nanci. She noticed that an athlete and parent from the girls’ team was giving him a gift and thanking him. Nanci said, “that’s very nice, but he didn’t even coach her.” The only explanation I could give was that he had earned respect from everybody, because that’s how great of a leader he is and that’s how great of a coach he is.

Before I left the meet, I gave him a hug and said goodbye. I then looked at a group of runners standing nearby and told them to never forget what he has done each of them. I sure haven’t.

This one is for you, Coach. 

*If you were coached or are the parent of an athlete who was coached by Scott  Thornberry, I would be happy to hear your favorite story or memory. Please share!

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Keynote at KSU

I recently had the opportunity to return to my collegiate alma mater of Kent State University to present a talk to a group of current students. I occasionally make it to campus because I live so close, but this was the first time visiting as a keynote speaker!

The event was hosted by I Survived College, which is an up-and-coming online social network dedicated to those who are about to attend college, who are currently attending college, and those who have graduated from college. It provides an outlet for people to share advice and experiences that might benefit others who find themselves in similar situations. The site provides a more targeted platform, instead of just blasting a question on other social media sites. It’s pretty cool! Check it out here!

What’s really awesome is that the event was sponsored by Delta Sigma Pi, the co-ed professional business fraternity of which I’m a member. The brothers were willing to spread the word by advertising across campus. Thanks, DSP!

Speaking at this event was a great experience for me and hopefully beneficial for those in attendance. As I continue to build my skill-set as a speaker, my main focus will be creating and sharing material that could make an impact on the audience. It’s my desire to use any experience I have and any knowledge I gain to inspire others to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. And even if just one person is impacted, I’ll consider that a success.

I’m happy and thankful to have found something that I can be passionate about. What is it that you’re passionate about? Are you taking the right steps to pursue your passion?

Let me know how I can help!

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The Improved Shopping Experience


Picture this…

You walk into a store. For the purpose of this story, let’s pretend you’re shopping for pants because you need a new pair of khakis. (Maybe you’re going out with friends or maybe you just got a job working with Jake from State Farm.) You know the size you need but you’re unsure of the fit and/or style that will work best for the occasion. This is an area I sometimes struggle with. Why can’t there just be an extra medium? As you begin looking around a sales associate says, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Do you cringe when you hear those words? How do you respond? [Take the poll at the bottom of this post!]

I’m willing to bet that 99.9% of the time you respond with, “no thanks, I’m just browsing.” To be honest, that’s my response most of the time, but I recently had a retail shopping experience that went beyond any (or at least most) of my previous experiences. Read on.

With springtime approaching, I decided it was time to make an upgrade involving one of my favorite outdoor activities; cycling. After six warm-weather cycling seasons I was ready to upgrade the bike I was riding. As much as I would enjoy telling you all about my new Specialized Tarmac, this story isn’t so much about me.

There it is! I can’t wait to put some miles on this baby!


Eddy’s Bike Shop (Stow location) is less than a mile from my house. I’ve been in plenty of times for accessories, but this was my first time actually shopping for a bike. This trip was clearly the most exciting! As soon as I walked through the door, a gentleman approached me and said, “how can I help you today?” I could have responded with the typical phrase above, but instead I replied, “I would like to look at road bikes, preferably close-outs if you have any.” Let’s face it, road bikes are expensive so it was a priority to be a savvy shopper.

The sales associate, Chris, took me directly to the road bike section. He proceeded to get an idea of what type of rider I am (where I ride, how often, how fast, etc). He collected information about the bike I was currently riding and he asked questions about how I feel when I ride. After choosing a few possible matches, Chris provided detailed information about each bike, and explained that he recently visited the manufacturer’s headquarters to become certified with their product lines. Once I made a decision, the bike was connected to a stationary trainer and the measurements were fitted to my body dimensions.

Photo borrowed from the Eddy’s Bike Shop Facebook page.


The driving idea I want you to take away is that when shopping, whether it’s for pants or bikes, consider letting that person who offers help to actually help you. Retail sales people and customer service representatives are leaders when it comes to you finding the best product, but only when you let them be leaders. Your shopping experience can easily become faster, more efficient and even more enjoyable. Give that person detail about exactly what you want instead of just “browsing.” It’s not like you’re obligated to make a purchase afterwards.

I just realized…I need a new pair of jeans. Instead of rummaging through shelves by myself, I think I’ll let a sales associate help me find the right pair.


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Yoga is for Everybody

Yes. Yoga is for everybody. This post might be more about yoga than leadership, but it all blends together, I promise!

I’ve only been to a handful of yoga classes, but I’ve incorporated a few poses and stretches into my routine since summer of 2014. Some people seem surprised when they hear that I’m beginning to practice yoga, and I don’t blame them. I admit that I was a yoga skeptic and will tell you that I never thought I would do it. When urged to try I would usually respond with something like, “ehhh, it’s just not for me.” Over the past few months I’ve learned what yoga actually is and have developed an appreciation for it. That leads me to the inspiration for this post.

My wife, Allison, recently became a registered yoga teacher (RYT 200). The amount of training involved came as a surprise to me. (If you think training simply involves doing a lot of yoga, you’re wrong.) It’s more than just asanas and mats. Her training involved learning anatomy and physiology, theories and methodologies, assists and modifications, leadership and instruction and I’m sure it included plenty of other detail of which I’m unaware. She attended training at Yoga Strong in Canton, Ohio every other Thursday, Saturday and Sunday for four and a half months. She knew up front that it would be a large commitment, but she also knew exactly what she wanted.

Graduates of the first Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Strong in Canton, Ohio.

Allison (bottom right) with her fellow RYT graduates.

The real inspiration comes from Allison finding something that she’s passionate about, then dedicating her time and resources to use that passion to help others. That’s a leadership characteristic that I don’t see too often. It goes beyond doing something for your own benefit by displaying pure selflessness. The first thing she taught me was that yoga is for everybody. Runners, cyclists, weight-lifters, tennis players, moms and dads, grandparents and children. People with anxiety, stress, frequent headaches, hangovers, injuries, hypertension and diabetes. It doesn’t matter what your condition is (even perfectly healthy), yoga can benefit you in multiple ways. One reason I enjoy going to yoga classes is because it gives me the chance to completely disconnect with the outside world and to focus purely on myself.

Here is a great beginner video that you can do on your own.


I have two challenges for you.

  1. Find something that you’re passionate about and use that passion to help others.
  2. Give yoga a chance. I’m confident you’ll see benefits just as I did. Yoga is for everybody.

Are you already using your passion to help others? If so, let me know by leaving a comment below!

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