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Cross country bike tour to make final stop at MacDill
Photo courtesy of Chief Master Sgt. (ret.) Steve Hughes

When Chief Master Sgt. Steve Hughes retired from the Air Force in 2003 he knew that he was not ready to spend his days lounging around his home in southern Maine.

Instead, he wanted to find a way to give back to the military community that had served him during his 28 years in the Air Force. His solution was to bicycle his way along the east coast, and raise awareness for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service and troops along the way.

To promote troop awareness, Mr. Hughes began bicycling from his home in Augusta, Maine, July 5. He hopes to arrive at MacDill on or about Aug. 12. Mr. Hughes will make stops at AAFES exchanges along the way where he will give away watches and Diamond Back bicycles at each facility he visits.

Additionally, Mr. Hughes will collect donations for Homes For Our Troops, a non-profit organization in Taunton, Maine, committed to building and remodeling handicap accessible homes for severely wounded military veterans. The retired chief master sergeant wants to help American service members severely injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"They are a new generation of disabled American veterans during a time when our military and Veterans Administration budgets are getting tight," he said. "I wanted to do something for our vets. I decided to be a part of Home For Our Troops."

Check out the MacDill Exchange for more information on Mr. Hughes' arrival at the Main BX Aug. 12, and a chance to win a Diamond Back Bike as well as other prizes.

"I have been working with AAFES and their suppliers to make these giveaways possible, and have received tremendous support," said Mr. Hughes. "I have always felt blessed with everything I have, and I wanted to be able to give back; this is my way of giving back," he said.

Supporters can track Mr. Hughes' progress by e-mailing him at freedomrings13@aol.com to see how one AAFES customer embraces the idea, "We go where you go!"

Well wishers don't have to bicycle across the country to support the troops in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom! Any American can also support the troops by logging on to www.aafes.com and clicking on the "Help Our Troops Call Home" link or calling 800-527-2345, seven days a week, and purchasing a Military Exchange Prepaid Phone Card.

The prepaid phone cards can be sent to "Any Service Member" and are distributed through the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House, or the Navy-Marine Relief Corps Society. With more than 65 call centers and 1,812 telephones in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, this is another great way to support troops stationed half a world away, and to bring home a little closer. (Courtesy of AAFES)

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