“Gold Star Ride” Stops In Chattanooga On Wednesday

Marine Vet On 2,800-Mile Cross-Country Bike Trip Saluting Fallen Troops

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jennifer Marino spent 15 years serving her country in the Marine Corps. The avid cyclist met a member of American Gold Star Mothers (AGSM) is an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service of their country. 

“She said her biggest fear was that her son's memory would be forgotten. I wondered how many other families have this same concern. At that time, I was looking for a way to connect my cross-country bike ride with a bigger purpose, so I decided to dedicate it to fallen heroes,” said Ms. Marino “But I didn't think that simply saying I was riding in their honor was really going to have an impact, so I reached out to this mother and asked her if she thought Gold Star families would be interested in sharing their stories with me as I crossed the country.”

Ms. Marino was put in contact with the National President of the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. The organization agreed to let her write a letter to their membership, which was sent out via email and published in their hard copy news letter. Ms. Marino included her contact info and encouraged families to email me if they were interested in being part of this project. As a result, she has now mapped out more than 100 families across the country where she will stop on her 77-day, 2,800-mile journey to visit and then blog and post Facebook entries about their stories. She departed Camp Pendleton in California on Aug. 10, and will complete her trip with a visit to the National Museum of the Marine Corps on Oct. 25.

Ms. Marino will visit a family in Athens, Tn., on Tuesday, and complete a rest stop in Chattanooga on Wednesday. She is also meeting with families in Nashville and Knoxville.

“The families seem to be universally grateful that someone who didn't know their loved one still wants to talk to them and hear their stories,” she said. “They appreciate the opportunity to share about the people they lost, because this is how they keep the memory of their loved ones alive. They tell me this project means a lot to them, and they can't believe I'm crossing the country on my bike to honor their loved ones.” 

The ride has been both a challenge and a great joy, said Ms. Marino. “Finding enough hours to accomplish everything that goes into a day in the life on this trip can sometimes be difficult,” she said. “I planned and coordinated the entire thing myself, including my visits with families, my riding routes, lodging, and I'm also the one responsible for my bicycle maintenance. My Facebook posts take me about 90 minutes to put together, and I spend several hours with families each day—not to mention riding 50 miles. But I am where I want to be right now and doing what I want to be doing. These families' stories are amazing, and I want more people to know about them.  

Donations, which go to both support Ms. Marino’s ride and to the Gold Star families, can be made at www.goldstarride.com. Follow Ms. Marino’s progress and hear the families’ stories on www.facebook.com/goldstarride.

"Gold star mothers" is a term that came into general use with the creation of the service flags used to show that a family had a son in the service (a blue star) or a son that had died in the service (a gold star almost covering the blue star so that a rim of blue still shows). A group of gold star mothers met in 1928 and formed the organization American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.  AGSM is a private organization and you must apply for membership if to join. AGSM is a non-profit, 501 C (3), organization and as such cannot engage in political or lobbying activities. The organization takes no position on political issues of the day but does support the military and has many activities that reflect that support. Officials said, "AGSM is not directly connected with any other organizations but we do communicate with similar organizations, which share our purpose."



Helen Ross Mcnabb Center Hosts First Scenic City Sporting Clays Tournament To “Pull!” For A Good Cause

The Helen Ross McNabb Center invites the community to support the 2017 Scenic City Sporting Clays Tournament on  Friday, May 5 , at Benton Sporting Clays in Charleston, Tenn.   The tournament marks the first fundraising event specifically focused on supporting mental health, addiction and social services provided by the Helen Ross McNabb Center in the Greater Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Bradley County Hosts Annual Relay For Life On Saturday

The courthouse square was blocked off in downtown Cleveland  on Saturday  for the annual Relay For Life of Bradley County.  The annual event to raise awareness of cancer in its many forms and donations to fight and end the disease attracted many hundreds of cancer survivors, their families, friends and caregivers. The Cleveland Fire Department Honor Guard ... (click for more)

Judge Walter Williams May Go Back On The Bench As Administrative Hearing Officer

One of the city's most colorful judges may go back on the bench. The City Council on Tuesday is set to vote on the nomination of former City Court Judge Walter Williams as administrative hearing officer - a new city position. The law license of the former judge was transferred to disability inactive status in August of 2015 after he suffered a stroke early in the year.  ... (click for more)

Body Believed To Be That Of McCallie Student Jackson Standefer Recovered In Colorado River

A body believed to be that of a McCallie School student who was swept away in a creek in the Grand Canyon was recovered on Friday. The Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center said it was notified by a commercial river trip that they located a body on the Colorado River at River Mile 152. Park rangers responded and recovered the body, which was transported to the rim ... (click for more)

White Coat Syndrome And The Medical System - And Response (2)

Today I wish to share what I am feeling as a patient in our medical system. I am too old to put on airs at this point, and this is too pervasive of a problem for me to contain.   As I enter my AARP years, I am faced with so many medical encounters that evoke all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. I dread physician’s appointments riddled with government regulatory hypocrisy, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Readers Are Right

It is hardly a secret that since I have become intensely interested in public education in Chattanooga, I have tried to read, research and understand how our efforts have fallen horribly short in the last 15 years. We agree we have a crisis on many fronts and I hope it is equally obvious I am desperate for solutions. Much like school board member Karista Jones, I worry that we are ... (click for more)