By Allan Jamail
Houston, TX. – Wednesday, November 11, 2020 at the Jim and Joann Fonteno Family Park in Harris County Precinct 2 at 14350 1/2 Wallisville Rd., veterans of all branches of service and citizens gathered for the dedication ceremony of the new Yellowbird Mountain Bike Trail.
Chris Saddler, Harris County Precinct (HCPCT 2) Parks and Recreation Director, was the Master of Ceremony for the dedication ceremony who introduced numerous guest speakers.
Sydney Penny, the former HCPCT 2 Interim Parks Director, spoke and said the bike trail planning began in August of 2019. He said under his administration Cassie Gibson, an Army Veteran who represents Veterans as a HCPCT 2 staff person, and other staffers contacted Yellowbird Veterans Organization with the idea of making a mountain bike trail for veterans. He said building mountain bike trails for Veterans is a way we all can express our gratitude to them for their service to the country and by allowing them to have some joy when using the bike trails.
Jose Jimenez, Director of HCPCT 2 – Neighborhood Services & Economic Opportunity, spoke and thanked the Veterans and citizens who came out to participate. Cassie Gibson, an Army Veteran who represents Veterans as a HCPCT 2 staffer, did an outstanding job in organizing the dedication. Tanya Makany-Rivera, Director of Government Affairs & Community Relations, helped provide information for this article.
Veterans recognized to speak were Chief Warrant Officer Denise Sanders, 30 year Veteran of the Army and Air Force (helicopter pilot); Wayne O’Quinn, Navy; Jose Tony Palomo, Army; Donald Bobo, Air Force; John Painter, Air Force; and Bob Gebhard, Navy. They each expressed their appreciation for the new mountain bike trail and for being recognized for their service to the country.
Bob Gebhard, US Navy Vietnam Veteran, made presentations of certificates to the Vietnam Veterans in attendance.
Julie Sivia, Vice Regent, Daughters of American Revolution, Lady Houston Chapter, made a presentation to Commissioner Adrian Garcia of a Texas flag flown at the state capitol and a commendation certificate to Harris HCPCT 2 for making the veterans mountain bike trail possible.
Commissioner Garcia spoke at the end of the ceremony and led the unveiling of the park sign for the Yellowbird Mountain Bike Trail. He said this is a big deal and he thanked the Rotary of North Shore, International Rotary, Operation Yellowbird, Precinct 2-2gether and others for their contribution of funds to get the trail built.
“You have made Precinct 2 a destination for Veterans to be able to come and relax, relief stress and emotions from their service to the country. These trails will save lives and we owe it all of you who helped us make this possible,” Garcia said.
Commissioner Garcia said, “We owe our Veterans, they made Yellowbird, they are still serving us.” Those in attendance were given refreshments a souvenir lapel pin and cap.
THE YELLOWBIRD MISSION: It’s simple, to enrich the lives of our fellow Veterans and First Responders by bringing them TOGETHER for what we miss the most; camaraderie. We use nature and outdoor activity to facilitate this, and firmly believe that nature heals.
We do all this with the ultimate goal of reducing the Veteran suicide rate, and assisting transitioning Veterans into civilian life by providing a support network of like minded Vets.
Thrills, not pills. I swear we’ll copyright that one day, but that’s the basic premise of how we think. Sometimes meds can help, we’re not discounting that. We just believe that often, some fun in the sun, fresh air, and physical activity with your brothers and sisters in arms can solve a lot of problems if we just let it.