Project Hero coming to Wiregrass area

Conrad Stempel, co-chairperson of the Wiregrass Wounded Veterans Committee, introduces the Project Hero agreement to attendees at Wednesday morning’s Military Affairs Breakfast.

A nonprofit organization geared toward helping veterans and first responders is getting involved in Enterprise and around the Wiregrass.

Conrad Stempel, co-chairperson of the Wiregrass Wounded Veterans Committee, spoke at Wednesday’s Military Affairs Quarterly Breakfast -- held at Enterprise’s VFW Post 6683 -- to introduce an agreement with Project Hero.

“Last Wednesday, Tim Laster who is president of the Enterprise Lions Club and also chairperson of Wiregrass Wounded Veterans Committee signed a memorandum of understanding with Project Hero,” Stempel said. “Project Hero is now a support partner of the 2020 Boll Weevil 100 and the Boll Weevil 100 is now a designated Project Hero Honor Ride.”

According to its website, Project Hero is “raising awareness of the national PTSD mental health crisis and making a difference in the lives of thousands of veterans and first responders, as well as their families and communities” by engaging in activities such as “building and donating adaptive bikes and producing cycling events throughout the nation (and) supporting community-based rehabilitation and recovery programs and important medical and clinical research.”

Stempel said Project Hero, which is headquartered in San Diego, California, devotes millions of dollars a year toward various service-oriented initiatives, and he said there is a lot of potential to promote the Boll Weevil 100 as well as Enterprise, Coffee County and the Wiregrass.

According to data presented by Stempel, Project Hero reaches 40,957 valid email addresses and has numerous visitors and followers on social media. They put on several community programs and special events, and programs can cover a single day or multiple days.

“Honor Ride is one of those single-day events,” he said. “There hasn’t been one in the southeast United States. They kept looking trying to do the first one and they happen in lots of places, but none here.”

Project Hero’s interest in the area, according to Stempel, came from social media attention to Wiregrass Wounded Veterans Committee’s handicap cabin lake retreat.

Now Project Hero will be a shareholder in the Boll Weevil 100, which benefits Alabama Lions Sight -- the “statewide umbrella that handles all the Lions Club vision programs,” Stempel said.

“Project Hero normally deals with organizations that handle service in support of wounded veterans and first responders,” he said. “We explained that the focus of Boll Weevil 100 is Alabama Lions Sight and they were fine with that.”

Per the agreement, no local services or initiatives will be interrupted and Project Hero will promote the local area.

Enterprise VFW Post 6683 Commander Otis Smith also spoke at the breakfast, unveiling an award for the Post.

“I’m proud to say that this Post was recognized for outstanding community service,” Smith said. He thanked the “people that did the hard work behind the scenes” including Senior Vice Commander Pamela Smith and Junior Vice Commander Randy Black.

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