Mark: Hey, folks let’s learn something new about the oil and gas industry.
All right. We’re sitting here today with Neil Campbell. How are you doing, Neil?
Neil: I am wonderful. Thank you.
Mark: And, Neil you’re involved with something that is actually close to my heart. You’re involved with the veterans’ organization, right?
Neil: Yeah, it’s called the Independence Fund.
Mark: And, what is the Independence Fund?
Neil: Independence Fund is a group that was founded about ten years ago with the intent of providing mobility for disabled veterans. When we started, we are really focused on post 9-11, Iraq, Afghanistan veterans, guys and girls that were coming back with PTSD, mobility issues. And, we believe that the VA was taken good care of their medical needs, but they needed more to help get back into society and that’s where we come in.
Mark: Yeah. And so, y’all have a ride coming up, right?
Neil: We do. This will be our tenth anniversary. We started the first Independence Ride in 2007. A group of cyclists who would every fall have a century ride. One year in 2007, we decided to open it up and invite up a bunch of other cyclists. Everybody throws some money in the pot and all the money that we raised would go to the Independence Fund.
And we thought we might raise $2,000, $3,000 that first year and we blew the doors off. We couldn’t believe it, we raised $67,000 that first year. And, we gave that to the Independence Fund, they bought a couple of very high-end wheelchairs, the $25,000 a pop. And, our event was started because we had brought in some veterans for our event. It wasn’t just an event to raise money for veterans, we brought some disabled veterans here.
We actually had eleven veterans coming that first year and we bring them in. We put them on a bike that suits their ability level if they are – if the got mobility issues maybe paralyzed, they can’t pedal with their legs, we put them on a hand cycle. They may have leg power, but they don’t have balance, so we put them on a three-wheeled recumbent tricycle. We had a guy the very first year who came in who’s blind. We put him on the back of a tandem because he can power, he just can’t see where he is going. And then, there’s a lot of veterans that they’re perfectly fine physically, but they suffer PTSD or brain injuries. They’re fine to ride a regular two-wheeled bike, but you just don’t want to stress them out too much.
So, that first year we had eleven and they said we got to do this again because this meant so much to us, so that began the start of this – this program and since then, we’ve actually branched out the Independence ride has also been held in Mobile, Alabama, Beaufort, South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina. And then, our most successful one, we did one just this year in Niagara Falls, New York.
Mark: Yeah. What awesome place, what awesome story. So, the next event is when?
Neil: It’s coming up here just on the outskirts of Houston, November 5th. We already have over two hundred disabled vets and caregivers registered. And we expect between eight hundred and a thousand civilians. So, we could have a thousand to twelve hundred riders on the road departing from the Knights of Columbus Hall in Wallis, Texas. And Wallis is about 45 miles from downtown Houston, just on the west side halfway between Sealy and Rosenberg.
And, twelve hundred riders and we use about three hundred to three hundred and fifty volunteers to make the thing work.
Mark: Yeah. So, folks if you want to help, if you want to contribute in some ways, you want to sponsor if you want to go ride the ride, you need to go to their website and check it out. It’s for a great cause.
So, if people wanted to find out more about the ride and more about the Independence Fund, where should they go?
Neil: There’s a couple of places. So, probably the first place to go for more information about the ride, the website, www.wallisride.com. There’s a lot of information there on the ride. If they want more about the organization, we have some brochures available we can send them, but the Independence Fund itself out of Charlotte, North Carolina, that’s the headquarters. They have a bunch of information and a bunch of videos that are – that tell a great story. Their website is www.independencefund.org.
Neil: Those two websites are the best two places.
Mark: Yeah. So, folks we’ll put links in the show notes so you’re not going to be writing stuff down.
Neil, thank you so much for your time today.
Neil: Not a problem. I want to keep doing it for another ten, twenty years and I hope you’re a part of it.
Mark: Yeah. We plan to play a part on it.
So, folks I hope this helped. We will see you next time.