For Christian Redman, the Last Ride fulfilled a heartfelt wish: A celebration with his daughter in Kentucky on her 18th birthday, a reunion with fellow 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment troopers and veterans, and a chance to once more sink his toes in the sand of a Key West beach.
“I just want to thank everybody who hleped me — I really appreciate it,” said Redman, 51, a Parker resident who is dying of the late-stage colon cancer he has fiercely fought for three years. His doctors in November gave him eight to 16 months to live. “I never will forget it.”
Rocky Cuda, a retired sergeant from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment — an Army unit also known as the Blackhorse Regiment — came up with the idea for a kind of make-a-wish last ride for Blackhorse troopers with Redman as the inaugural event. He called it Maverick’s Last Ride after Redman’s call sign from his Army days.
The plan was for a caravan-style road trip leaving March 4 from Parker to Louisville, Kentucky, so Redman could celebrate with his daughter on her 18th birthday on March 10, then on to the Daytona Beach bike week with the final stop in Key West. There would be other stops along the way where Blackhorse troopers and veterans, on motorcyles or in cars, could join in.
Ray Simpson, a Blackhorse veteran in Colorado Springs, offered to drive Redman in his Ford pickup, pulling a 36-foot camper. Redman’s friends and local veterans set up a GoFundMe account and held fundraisers to help cover the trip’s expenses and Redman’s ongoing medical bills. As of March 31, about $10,400 had been raised.
The Last Ride didn’t happen exactly as planned: Redman was too sick to make the road trip. But he was able to fly to Louisville to be with his daughter on her birthday. He returned home for doctor appointments, then flew to Key West on March 15, where he spent five days with Cuda, Simpson and several other Blackhorse veterans.
Simpson drove the route, meeting Redman in Louisville and Key West, and other Blackhorse veterans in Kansas City, Missouri, and Atlanta.
“This is what it was all about, helping a brother make a last wish come true,” Cuda said. “We didn’t really know if it would all work out. However, we believed in each other and we believed that our Blackhorse family would come together and make a dream come true for one of our own …”
Since his return from Key West, Redman has been struggling. Doctors have found more cancer in his liver. He’s facing more radiation and chemo treatments.
The trip, he said, was a true blessing: “Key West was beautiful as always. It was good to see my brothers, and the weather was fantastic. It’s just a different atmosphere down there — something’s always going on. It helped me forget that I was sick for a little while.”
And, Redman said, “I did sink my toes in the sand.”
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