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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- It may look like a ride for leisure and fitness, but it's so much more than that.
"Out of the seventeen young men from Huntington, Tom was the only body that was never recovered [from Vietnam]," Rachel Zahm said.
Tom, whose full name is Thomas Aquinas Parker, is a Huntington native and also Rachel's father.
TAPS is responsible for the Thomas Aquinas Parker statue, and now they are hoping to raise money for other veteran monuments through this bicycle ride.
"We have a number of privately funded monuments. One is now for purple heart veterans and another one now for Vietnam veterans, and we're getting ready next year to do one for women who serve in the military," Mayor Brooks Fetters said.
TAPS is partnering with the Huntington Area Recreational Trails Association for this.
They had an outpour of community support last year, and this year they are hoping for a repeat.
"We were able to raise over $70,000 in twelve months time,"Zahm said.
"It gets people out. It gets people engaged. It's also a great way to pay tribute to our Vietnam veterans," Eric Bruce who is the vice-president for HARTA said.
That $70,000 went toward the monument in Memorial Park.
"It's been an amazing experience of healing not only for myself and my family, but for a number of Vietnam veterans that I have been blessed to meet this past year,"Zahms added.
She said it's something that's connected the community, and she hopes it becomes an annual event.
"They're totally in support of their veterans here in Huntington. It's just been an amazing experience for me. The fact that my father was never brought home from Vietnam, his body never being recovered, it was something I lived with for 52 years and I was only 14 months old when he was killed," she said.
She said having the community come out for this event in his honor and honoring the other veterans from Huntington is like bringing her father home.
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