A way of saying thanks

Thu, 09/24/2009 - 2:09pm
By: Ben Nelms

A way of saying thanks

It was a way to say thank you for the care he was given in a time of need and to raise money for wounded warriors. Tyrone resident Matthew Sanchez organized a fundraiser Sept. 15 at the Texas Roadhouse Restaurant in Newnan to benefit the Shepherd Center and the SHARE Initiative for injured soldiers. The fundraiser was an extension of the “We Ride for Shepherd” that had Sanchez, Fayetteville resident Marina Fleming and three others traveling more than 4,200 miles across the U.S. earlier this year.

Twenty year-old University of Georgia Sophomore and Tyrone native Matt Sanchez and 20 year-old Fayetteville resident and College of Charleston student Marina Fleming were accompanied by fellow UGA students Nikil Kashyap and Joseph Najjar along with University of Colorado student and Carrollton resident Anthony Orig on a 4,262 mile bicycle trek that began in Astoria, Oregon on May 24 and ended in Yorktown, Virginia on Aug. 7.

Their journey was designed to raise awareness and funds for the SHARE program at Shepherd Center, a private catastrophic care hospital in Atlanta that specializes in the medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries, acquired brain injuries and other neurological conditions.

The SHARE Initiative helps treat U.S. military service members who have suffered spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries. Most cannot afford the high cost of such specialized treatment without monetary assistance.

For Sanchez, the idea behind the cross country ride and the continuing efforts to raise funds to benefit others is personal. In 2004 he experienced a C-5 spinal injury while playing football at Our Lady of Mercy and found himself at Shepherd for six weeks. The C-5 vertebrae was completely crushed and his condition was so compromising that it was felt he might not survive the first night, said Sanchez.

“The care I got was exceptional,” Sanchez explained. “Everybody there was upbeat and positive in a situation that was depressing. But there was something going on there. I was blessed. Today I feel great.”

The Texas Roadhouse in Newnan donated 10 percent of the evening’s proceeds to the SHARE program. Sanchez said his partnership with Texas Roadhouse came about during the cross country ride.

“Other Texas Roadhouse restaurants fed us along the way and helped with hotel rooms,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez is set for his sixth fundraiser with Texas Roadhouse. His next stop is a restaurant in Kentucky.

For more information visit www.werideforshepherd.org

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