The 18th Annual Boll Weevil 100 hosted by the Enterprise Lions Club has found a partner in national nonprofit organization Project Hero.
Wiregrass Wounded Veterans Committee Co-Chairperson and Enterprise Lions Club Historian Conrad Stempel announced that the annual event will be officially designated an “honor ride” by Project Hero at the Enterprise Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Military Affairs Breakfast on Sept. 25.
He said that Boll Weevil 100 is the first and only Project Hero honor ride event in the Southeast United States.
Project Hero is a nonprofit organization that uses cycling to help treat and rehabilitate first responders suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury and other injuries. The organization also founded the Project Hero Institute for Mental Health to support clinical research programs on the subjects of PTSD and TBI.
The Boll Weevil 100 has been hosting Warrior Transition Units since its inception and Stempel said he’s proud that the event will expand to provide help to first responders as well.
“You can’t differentiate what both groups of heroes do for our communities and our country,” Stempel said. “They have the same issues and they need the same help.”
The event has been the host of WTUs from Fort Benning, Fort Campbell, Fort Gordon, Fort Jackson and Fort Stewart over the years.
The need for a committee to help the Enterprise Lions Club plan and host these WTUs for the annual event is what led to the creation of the WWVC.
Stempel said that both the Alabama Lions Club and WWVC will continue to support the WTUs.
Stempel said that Project Hero officially signed the memorandum of understanding with the Enterprise Lions Club, who sponsors the Boll Weevil 100, on Sept. 18.
The proceeds from the event each year go to the Alabama Lions Sight Program, which provides free vision testing and eye care to those who need it.
He said that Project Hero recognized the help and support that the Alabama Lions Sight Program does for the members of all the communities around the state, veteran or civilian, and were happy to help support it.
As part of the partnership, Project Hero will become a shareholder in the event and also provide its reach, national sponsors and graphics team to help promote the event. He noted that the organization’s series of multi-day “Challenge” events reached an audience of over 525,000 people.
“I think it’s going to be a big thing for our community,” Stempel said.
Stempel said that Project Hero found out about the WWVC and Enterprise Lions Club through social media when the WWVC donated the Wounded Warrior Retreat by the Lake Cabin to Fort Rucker.
He thanked the community in its efforts to make that cabin possible, which he said in turn made this partnership possible.
“When you get to the Boll Weevil 100 on any of those websites, you see the interactions and you see all these organizations and all of these volunteers and all the cities and county entities are involved in making the Boll Weevil 100, made that cabin happen,” Stempel said. “Hasn’t happened anywhere else. You are what made it happen. The interactions with Fort Rucker. That doesn’t happen in other places; it happens here. That’s why they’re coming.”
After Stempel’s presentation, Enterprise Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee Chairman Bill Baker said the event and partnership would help the city grow.
“It’s also going to put more people in hotels, more people in restaurants, it’s going to help grow the City of Enterprise and it’s going to help put us on the map,” said Baker.