Clifford Benton, left, shakes hands with American Legion Rider James Christian Saturday, April 15, 2017, at the Florence, S.C., American Legion Post 1. The bicycle was given to Benton on behalf of The American Legion's aOperation Comfort Warriors program. Photo by Abbi O'Leary

Legion donates custom-fitted bike to Iraq veteran

Clifford Benton, an injured Iraq Army veteran from Florence, S.C., wanted a road bike for his rehabilitation therapy and for recreational use. His physical therapist at the Williams Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center agreed; however, the problem was finding a bike that fit Benton’s 6-foot-7-inch frame.

Benton contacted The American Legion for assistance, and on April 15 the organization’s Operation Comfort Warriors program donated a custom-fit bike to Benton to aid in his recovery.

“We do everything we can to make sure our veterans get what they need,” said Walt Richardson, Department of South Carolina vice commander and Legion Rider who helped present the bike to Benton at Post 1 in Florence. “When we have a veteran that needs something, we do it.”

Richardson was one of nearly 20 Legion Riders who escorted the bike – which was carried in one of the department’s vehicles – from Columbia to Florence, about 100 miles one way. Upon arrival to Post 1, dozens of other Legion family members and Legion Riders from as far as Myrtle Beach, Conway and Rockhill joined in on the donation.

“I would not have missed the donation. It was a rewarding experience,” Richardson said.

Once Benton was presented the bike he took off his boots, jumped on the bike and rode it around the home of Post 1. The custom bike was built by Outspokin Bicycles in Columbia and features a carbon-fiber reinforced frame to support Benton’s height

“He was extremely grateful that he could get this bike,” Richardson said. “He was courteous and polite; he is a fine southern boy.”

Besides the bike donation, Post 1 paid for Benton’s first year of Legion membership.

“He is quite a guy and we are delighted to have him as a member,” said Post 1 Commander Don Handley. “I think he is going to make a really good member.”

Operation Comfort Warriors

This program provides comfort items for wounded, injured or ill military personnel. All donations to this fund go directly towards the purchase of these comfort items.