The former Navy police officer, who served 22 years in the military, was determined not to let diabetes control his life, so he started an exercise routine and modified his eating habits, ultimately losing 50 pounds over the next year.
As part of his new active lifestyle, the 55-year-old Bartow County resident took up cycling and one afternoon while “riding and praying” Schwartz said he was led to create Freedom’s Heart, an organization dedicated to helping the men and women who have served our country.
To help raise money for the veterans who are disabled, Schwartz created the fundraiser Cycling For Warriors, a 3,200-mile “epic” ride across America.
The cross country journey begins Sunday in San Diego, Cali. and Schwartz, along with his brother, Steve “Woody” Schwartz, will cycle from the West Coast to Jacksonville, Fla. over the course of the next 60 days.
“We’re just going to ride at a steady pace and let that pace carry us through,” Schwartz said. “The point is, we’re not out here to go fast, we’re trying to raise money for veterans.”
Schwartz has a goal of $50,000 and the majority of the funds raised during the ride will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project, with the remaining funds going to veterans he will meet along the way. The project is an official Proud Sponsor Event for Wounded Warriors.
To donate visit www.cyclingforwarriors.org.
Although the ride is a tremendous undertaking, Schwartz said it pales in comparison to the sacrifices made by those who have fought for freedom.
Schwartz said taking a leave of absence from work to travel across the country is a risk within itself, but having an understanding employer is an added blessing.
His employer Wynn Buick GMC also donated a 2014 GMC Sierra to go along for the ride, which will be driven by Schwartz’s father-in-law Darwin Shelton, who also lives in Bartow County and will serve as biographer and photographer.
Rick Wynn, president and CEO, said Schwartz’s journey is just as much spiritual as humanitarian and supporting the ride is an honor.
“This ride from sea to shining sea is a blessing that is a part of God’s plan,” Wynn said. “Every day we all face problems [but] the problems that wounded warriors face are so overwhelming that most people wouldn’t be able to handle it. The least we can do is do everything we possibly can to support them.”
A stop is planned for Cartersville at Tabernacle Baptist Church parking lot Oct. 15 at 11:30 a.m.