In the world of endurance sports, where grit, determination, and resilience reign supreme, U.S. Army veteran Matt Rios stands out as a beacon of hope and inspiration. Named the Hope For The Warriors May Athlete of the Month, Matt’s journey is not just about conquering miles on the trail; it’s about overcoming personal struggles and empowering others along the way.

When asked why Matt was nominated, Augustine Monroe, Hope For The Warriors Sports & Recreation Case Manager, didn’t hesitate to highlight Matt’s remarkable qualities. “Matt embodies what it means to be a member of Team HOPE,” Augustine explained. “He is an open book with his struggles and solutions that have been helpful for him in his journey. He pushes himself on the trails beyond what many would even consider. He is passionate about his physical wellness and the general wellness of others.”

Team HOPE Athlete of the Month, Matt Rios running on a trail.

Matt’s journey with Hope For The Warriors began with a simple request for support to register for a local Ultramarathon. His passion for the challenge of ultra-running and his willingness to share his story immediately resonated with Augustine and the team. Little did they know, Matt’s story was just beginning to unfold.

Despite facing numerous obstacles, including a cancer scare and a broken tailbone sustained just weeks before a 100KM race in January, Matt’s spirit remained unbroken. His determination to push through the pain and cross the finish line exemplifies the resilience that defines him. “I just figured I would hurt for a little while during the race, and eventually my body would get with ‘The program,'” Matt recounted. “It did; after about 9-10 miles, my tailbone went numb. I truly believe the body can handle ten times more than the brain thinks it can. It’s all a mental game.” Despite the physical pain, Matt finished with a time of 20 hours, nine minutes and 35 seconds. “It was a fun race, and I was happy to finish,” he said. 

Brazos Bend 100KM Race Medal.

Throughout his journey, Hope For The Warriors has been a steadfast source of support for Matt. HOPE’s assistance has been invaluable, from providing race supplies to covering registration fees. But for Matt, it’s the personal connection that truly makes a difference. “The check-ins are welcomed, and to me, [it shows] you truly care about your mission and the people, not just the stats,” he shared.

With a 100-mile race coming up in December, Matt’s determination remains unwavering, and with the support of Hope For The Warriors behind him, he’s ready to tackle the challenge head-on, “Since HOPE paid for my entry fee into this year’s 100-mile race, that is enough to get me out the door and training.” 

Being named the Hope For The Warriors May Athlete of the Month is not just an accolade for Matt; it’s a platform to inspire others facing their own battles. “I appreciate being nominated, and I hope in some weird way my struggle-fight-and-triumph over C-PTSD will maybe motivate or inspire another teammate to tackle their mental health issues,” Matt expressed. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about; it’s more of a badge of honor. 

Asking for help isn’t giving up; it’s refusing to quit!”

Team HOPE Athlete of the Month, Matt Rios in front of the finish line.In Matt Rios’s story, we find not only the triumph of the human spirit but also the power of community and the resilience of the human heart. As he continues to lace up his running shoes and conquer new challenges, Matt’s journey reminds us that anything is possible with hope and perseverance.

Team Hope For The Warriors (Team HOPE) provides athletes of all abilities the opportunity to compete at various endurance events throughout the year.

Warrior Team members are provided race support, goal-setting opportunities, and social engagement to ensure they all feel the camaraderie, belonging, and connection of being part of a team.

All Warrior Team participants must connect to services with Hope For The Warriors before being added to the program.