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The incredible Bicycle Balloon Race at the Warren County Farmers’ Fair welcomes rider with incredible story.

This year the registration fees from the Bicycle Balloon Race at the Hot Air Balloon Festival at the Warren County Farmers’ Fair will go to Adopt A Soldier Platoon.


Imagine being so proud of what you’ve accomplished and what you do with your life, but you don’t tell anyone, or at least many, if any friends and acquaintances because they often are dubious of your story.  You don’t need to imagine it if your Brian Rich.  This is what he lives with every day.  A quiet man helping others – who has gotten some wonderful opportunities but rarely discusses them.  Ask him about his mission and you’ll hear plenty. 

Brian’s latest adventure will have him riding in a hot air balloon with his recumbent bike strapped to the outside of the basket with bungee cords dropping him off in the middle of Warren County to find his way back to the Warren County Farmers’ Fair on Wednesday July 31st.  This year the Bicycle Balloon Race will donate all registration fees to Adopt A Soldier Platoon.

Brian has always been very active in public service and his community (since he was 18).  From 1990-2002 he participated in the MS 150 bike tour (imagine riding your bike 150 miles over 2 days).  However, in 1992 during a tremendous rain storm, Brian was trying to maneuver his bike safely off the road but instead hit a pothole that sent him flying over the handlebars breaking his helmet in 3 places, losing a few teeth, oh, and breaking his neck.  You read that right – he broke his neck and still rode the MS 150 tour for another 10 years.

Brian will be taking his bike out of retirement to ride in the Bicycle Balloon Race this year at the Warren County Farmers’ Fair, which features a Hot Air Balloon festival, presented by JCP&L. His accident left his with limited side-to-side movement of his head and he can’t lean forward – which is why he had a special recumbent bike built so he could sit back vs. upright. But riding was the only thing to look forward to, so despite months of recovery, he did what he needed to do and eventually got back on the bike.

Following years of the MS150 ride after his recovery he upped the ante and rode his bike twice from Madison Square Garden to Richmond, all on his own – the first time crashing and breaking his bike. Ask him about it now and he’ll comment he can’t believe he rode his bike that far.  As life brings changes, Brian moved on from the MS150 ride and so his bike moved to the basement.

That didn’t keep Brian from being busy.  He and his wife Susan run an organization; “A Grateful Nation” to get supplies to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  An old acquaintance from high school reached out to Brian when her daughter was serving in Iraq as a helicopter pilot. Knowing Brian’s specialty was procurement she wanted to know if he could help get her daughter, and other soldiers get some items they needed (and some they wanted).  Since the 1980’s Brian and Susan have shipped 12 tons of items from candy to suntan lotion to our soldiers oversees.  His “job” as he describes it is to find what they “need” and get it to them.  Just last week he arranged for 740 pounds of candy to be delivered.  For years (he doesn’t exactly remember when he started working with Adopt A Soldier Platoon) whenever he had donations that his troops didn’t need he donated them to Adopt A Platoon.  They often work hand in hand.  When Brian saw the article about the Bicycle Balloon Race he knew he wanted to participate, not just so that he didn’t sit on his front porch when he was 80 wishing he had taken the opportunity, but also as a means to further spread the word on how we can all help those serving oversees protecting our freedom. 

Someone once told Brian that he does “these crazy things” because he didn’t serve and doesn’t have any “war stories” to tell. Brian sees it as a challenge to come up with a solution not sit around and wonder who is going to help.  If some “crazy things” like a Bicycle Balloon Race accomplish that goal – then he’s in.  He has gotten to run the Olympic torch in 2002, visit the White House (both inside and on the South Lawn where George H.W. Bush thanked the torch runners), go inside Buckingham Palace and attended the Army Ranger Ball 2 years ago.

Join us this year at the Warren County Farmers’ Fair and Hot Air Balloon Festival on Wednesday July 31st to see Brian and 20+ other bicyclists take off with their hot air balloons.  Show your appreciation to the men and women who serve our country by bringing a donation (monetary or supplies) for Adopt A Platoon.  Brian summed it up perfectly – the more you give the more you get.

This year the Bicycle Balloon Race is sponsored by Fulton Bank of New Jersey.

The Warren County Farmers’ Fair and Hot Air Balloon Festival kicks off on July 27 and runs through August 3, 2013. The Hot Air Balloon Festival is proudly presented by JCP&L and balloons are powered by AmeriGas. The event is also supported in part by a grant from New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism,


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