Army veteran bikes from Maine to Florida, honors late friend’s memory

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Danny Stokes is a retired U.S. army veteran with a big goal in mind.

He is biking 2,700 miles, from Maine to Florida, to raise awareness for Operation Enduring Warrior. On Friday he passed through Virginia Beach.

Stokes isn't just riding just any old bike - he is riding a tandem bicycle. If you see him, you will find that the back seat is empty.

"The idea is that we keep his seat empty in his memory so we just have one rider, solo, on the tandem bike," said Stokes.

The seat was supposed to be filled by Stokes' friend John Hunt, a blind retired Marine veteran. The duo planned to make the trip together, but Hunt passed away abruptly last month after a heart attack while they were training for the multi-state ride.

Stokes wanted to fulfill his late friend's dream by continuing the trip they had planned together.

"We're continuing his mission, like we do in this U.S. military, we never give up," said Stokes. So when you see the empty seat, know that Hunt is riding along in spirit.

The bike ride is in partnership with Operation Enduring Warriors. The organization is a veteran-founded non-profit whose mission is to honor, empower, and motivate our nation's wounded military and law enforcement veterans through physical, mental and emotional rehabilitation.

Stokes said passing through Hampton Roads is extra special because Virginia is Hunt's home state.  The veteran was from Richmond.

You can follow along with Stokes' journey on his Facebook page Operation Enduring Warrior Bicycle Tour 2018.