The Annual Xtreme Couture GI Foundation Ride for Our Troops went down last Saturday and was a huge success with over 210 bikes participating! We started the day at 8am at O School Choppers on Russell and Valley View where registration was happening as well as a bunch of socializing. A number of celebs were in the crowd including the illusionist, Criss Angel. This is where Randy Couture first introduced us to war veteran, Joey Jones. Little did we know how much this young man would touch our hearts.
At 10am on the dot, everyone got on their bikes and as we exited the parking lot to begin our journey, the bikes were blessed a safe journey. Thank you to Tim for letting us ride along with him for the day! The first stop of the day was to Searchlight Casino and it was close to an hour ride from the starting point. Previously in the past, the run had multiple stops, but they changed it up this year and only had the one. So that meant we had a lot more time to hang out, and have some fun as you can see from the photos.
It was here that we first started getting to know Joey Jones; an EOD Technician in the Marine Corps who had lost both of his legs in Afghanistan to an IED blast. In spite of such injury, his smile never faltered and his positive aura touched everyone who came into contact with him. We think every single person on the run came up to him for a photo and a moment at some point throughout the day.
After having lunch at the casino, we got back on the bikes around 1pm. We had an hour ride back to Stoney’s Rockin’ Country Bar at Town Square where the after ride festivities were planned. Everyone participating in the poker part of the run, picked up their 4th and 5th cards having picked up 1 and 2 at O School Choppers, and 3 at Searchlight. Randy got on the mic and introduced Michael Austin who had participated last season on the Voice and was there to sing the National Anthem. After an incredible rendition of the timeless song, Randy stepped to the stage again, where he introduced Joey Jones to cheers and clapping from the entire crowd.
The crowd went silent as Joey began to weave his tale filled with smiles and humor despite the story’s end. He had joined the military and decided to become an EOD technician. He was deployed out to Iraq as well as Afghanistan and dismantled countless IED’s throughout his career. The day in question started off at 7am with the dismantling of an IED as he joked about not having breakfast… What he didn’t mention in his story to us that day was that he had dismantled 40 bombs in just 5 days before accidentally stepping on pressure plate that set off an explosion. He said “everything went tan” which was the dust rising from the explosion. He escaped minus his two legs and a broken arm; his partner wasn’t so lucky who was seemingly unscathed by the blast but suffered severe brain trauma and passed away. He continued on about his recovery and in his humorous way told about asking The Boot Campaign if he could, “Come fold T Shirts for them?” The said, “we have the t shirts covered; we have something better for you.” He currently works as an ambassador for the Boot Campaign along with many other committees for various different groups and charities. He has been awarded the Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat Valor device, Combat Action Ribbon and Outstanding Military Community Service Medal and more. And, to top it all off, he graduates from Georgetown University TOMORROW! As he finished telling his story, his inspirational words touched the crowd and there was not a dry eye in the house, ours included! Thank you to Joey Jones for being such an integral part of the community, hero, and role model to all.
It’s hard to continue our write up of the day, after the last paragraph, but it did continue on!! After Joey stepped down, Michael Austin came back up and performed a few songs in which he got the crowd singing along to. Then Randy introduced Elvis Monroe which is a collaborative of a group of guys from other bands including Matchbox 20 and Lifehouse. As their performance continued, they brought Randy Couture on stage, then Joey Jones, then lead singer Bryan Hopkins parents including his father to play the spoons. Next was guitarist, Ben Carey’s parents and the stage was packed! Everyone had an incredible time and it was a fantastic end to our 4th time joining in with the GI Foundation Bike Run. Can’t wait for next year but not sure it will be able to top this one!!!
Check out all the photos below: