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3,700-mile 'Warrior Ride' pauses Saturday to honor fallen Bloomington soldier

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NORMAL — To U.S. Army Veteran Kyle Bigue, his friend and fellow warrior Sgt. Anthony Maddox was the bravest guy he’s ever known.

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U.S. Army Veteran Kyle Bigue, of Concord, New Hampshire, pedals down U.S. Historic Route 66 into northeast Normal on Saturday as part of a 3,700-mile "Warrior Ride" to honor fallen soldier Sgt. Anthony Maddox of Bloomington.

Bigue continued efforts to keep his name alive Saturday by making a stop in Maddox’s hometown of Bloomington-Normal as part of a coast-to-coast bicycle journey. The Concord, New Hampshire, man departed Boston April 29 to pedal 3,700 miles to Coronado, California, by June 18.

Anthony Maddox

Maddox died at age 22 in 2013 after most of his body was burned in accident in Andar, Afghanistan. Bigue said it was the toughest thing he’s seen in his whole life.

Bigue, 33, is going on the Warrior Ride as part of The Ultimate Sacrifice Foundation. Another mission of theirs is to help raise awareness about post-traumatic stress and suicidal ideations faced by U.S. service members, veterans and Gold Star Family communities.

Ceremony set to rename part of I-55 for fallen soldier

TUSF CEO Mike Doody said they put on other community healing engagements, along with reunions.

Bigue told The Pantagraph that he lives with PTSD, adding “it just wreaks havoc in your life.” He also said it’s hard to reach out to others for help, because they feel alone after leaving the service.

Since he personally knows what it’s like to suffer, Bigue said he can’t stand by and do nothing. He said part of TUSF’s mission is to link military service members and veterans with treatment facilities and prevent suicides.

After convening for a pit stop in Towanda, Bigue was escorted to a luncheon at Medici in Normal by several other veterans, Bloomington and Normal firefighters, and Normal police.

Normal Police Officers Evan Easter and Charles Cowley facilitated the escort. Easter said he was part of the May 2019 escort that dedicated a section of Interstate 55 in honor of Maddox. He then added that the continued efforts to honor the fallen soldier were “incredible.”

Members of the Bloomington Goodfellas motorcycle club also rode with Bigue, including a Vietnam veteran who goes by the name T. Wolf. He said he understand Bigue’s pain because he lost a son.

So when things go wrong, Wolf said his club supports each other, and they’ll extend that to veterans in times of need. He said they rode in May 2019 for Maddox, too, and it was important for them to do it again.

Normal Mayor Chris Koos and Bloomington Ward 2 council person and mayor pro tem Donna Boelen were also present at the luncheon.

Koos said recognizing Maddox’s service is important, and also noted the Warrior Ride is symbolic for other people that haven’t been recognized in such events.

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Army Veteran Kyle Bigue, center, poses for a photo Saturday at Medici in Normal with the family of soldier Sgt. Anthony Maddox. The two served together in Afghanistan. Left is Ambria Maddox, second from left is mother Frances Maddox, right is father Jerome Maddox, and second from right is Victoria Maddox.

“It's important that we recognize the work that these people did in sacrifice of their country,” he said.

Boelen said she is a “staunch supporter” of the military, and returning service members need to be shown that “they have our support.”

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A perfect smile

Bigue said connecting with Maddox’s family for the ride filled his heart, as they swapped stories of times with Maddox while and before he served.

He also said it was a “life-changing” moment and he had never felt so much love in his entire life.

Bigue said he remembers Maddox as “The most generous, heartwarming guy you'll ever meet in your life.

"(He) makes everyone feel at home.”

Mother Frances Maddox told The Pantagraph her family shares Bigue’s mission of keeping her son’s name alive.

She said Anthony Maddox had a “perfect smile.” Additionally, he loved football and working out, and helped his friends achieve their physical goals with his leadership skills.

She said her son had a tight brotherhood with his fellow service members. She added that he excelled at what he was doing, and had plans to go into Ranger school.

“He was going to make it a career,” she said.

Frances Maddox said Bigue’s Warrior Ride aided the healing process and helped them realize they have an extended family with the veterans.

Those interested in contributing to TUSF can donate online at ultimatesacrificefoundation.org or text "Warrior" to 801801.

Contact Brendan Denison at (309) 820-3238. Follow Brendan Denison on Twitter: @BrendanDenison

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Breaking News Reporter

Brendan Denison is our breaking news reporter. Denison was a digital content producer for WCIA-TV in Champaign and a reporter for The Commercial-News in Danville. He can be reached at (309) 820-3238 and bdenison@pantagraph.com.

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