Marine on a mission - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Marine on a mission

An injured Marine is currently making his way across the country on a tricycle, just to help those who once helped him.

Ben Maenza is a double amputee Marine riding across the United States to raise money for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, an organization that helped him out when he needed it the most.

Sunday Ben and his crew made their way into southwest Louisiana.

The journey began 15 days ago for the Ride for Heroes five man team. Their cross country tricycle trip began on June 10 in St. Augustine, Florida.

"The goal of our ride is to raise money and awareness for that fund, which supports Marines and other service members who have been injured since 9/11," said team member John Gerlaugh. 

One of the team members is Marine Ben Maenza. Ben lost both of legs in 2010 while in combat in Afghanistan.

"He was helped by the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund," said Gerlaugh. "He is a big advocate of what they're doing, their program. Also, he's kind of an adventurous fellow."

Gerlaugh says Ben is now doing what he was taught to do through the Marine Corps.

"Ben was a corporal in the Marine Corps," said Gerlaugh. "He has been in a leadership position. That's what leaders do in the Marines Corps, they help each other, and that's what he's doing."

The Semper Fi Fund has helped more than seven thousand service members with expenses that the government usually doesn't cover, like the expense of the family being there during recovery, something Gerlaugh says is part of the healing process.

"These guys have given up all their tomorrows for this effort, and it would great if folks bellied up to the bar and said I got it, we're going to help them," said Gerlaugh. "That'd be a good thing. Believe me, they deserve it."

The 2,744 mile journey across the United States is something these men will remember for a lifetime.

"It's very fulfilling," said Gerlaugh. "In fact I would say it's one of the most fulfilling things I've done maybe in my adult life."

The five man team is resting in Kinder Sunday night. They will continue their journey after resting Monday. They plan to end their trip in the beginning of August at Camp Pendleton in California.

For more information visit www.rideforheroes.stayclassy.org.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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