The countdown toward the next race is underway for Team Hope For The Warriors athlete Kevin Bittenbender! On April 29, 2022, Kevin will compete in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, an event he knows well, as this will be his fifth time participating as a hand cyclist. Since 2015, Kevin has been taking to the pavement not only for himself but to honor and remember his fellow service members.
While serving in Afghanistan, Kevin lost three of his Soldiers and best friends in an ambush. This left him with PTSD, survivor’s guilt and eventually led to a partial amputation of his left foot, making it hard to maintain an active lifestyle. Struggling both physically and mentally, Kevin almost became a statistic to the 22 lost daily, but after connecting with HOPE, he found his drive and purpose to keep going.
After being gifted a handcycle by HOPE, Kevin began participating in races to pay tribute to his friends who gave the ultimate sacrifice. This led to the involvement in other events, such as a hunting excursion in Colorado, where HOPE partnered with Mossy Oak to provide adaptative warriors the opportunity to embrace the outdoorsman lifestyle.
Learning more about HOPE, understanding the mission, and seeing first-hand the impact of the programs and services is what pushed Kevin to stay involved with the organization.
“HOPE has instilled what I call the three ‘P’s,’” said Kevin. “Purpose, passion, and part of something bigger than myself. [Working with the organization is] an experience, one that is never duplicated. The networking with fellow servicemen and women has been so beneficial to my mental and spiritual well-being.”
This year’s Pittsburgh Marathon will be the ultimate test of perseverance, as Kevin recently underwent a left leg below the knee amputation on February 17, 2022. While this recovery has required mental and physical fortitude, Kevin’s drive and desire to inspire us all is what kept him motivated.
“I hope the motivation I display can have an impact on someone else who may be struggling with those hidden demons and provide me with a legacy I can be proud of,” said Kevin. “I am a fan of any city or organization that allows and supports adaptive programs, which emphasizes inclusiveness. The Pittsburgh Marathon does just that.”
The goal of Team Hope For The Warriors is to provide athletes of all abilities the opportunity to engage their competitive spirit at endurance events all over the country. HOPE works to provide athletes with the adaptative equipment necessary to achieve their goals and to support them along their journey.
It is because of the dedication and support of our partners, sponsors, and donor community that HOPE can serve our nation’s heroes and their families. We can’t thank you enough for your encouragement and are excited to see all the lives we touch together in 2022!
To get connected with Team Hope For The Warriors, click here.