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HISTORY OF SERGEANT PHILIP JAMES SVITAK

Richard and I would like to introduce Sgt. Philip James Svitak to those of you who have the Dual Desire of participating in your favorite sport while contributing to an exceedingly worthwhile cause. We are also seeking sponsors willing to help make the annual Svitak Freedom Ride a huge success.

Fact #1 - The boy WAS NOT a Saint!! We wanted six children (as Richard and I both came from large families). Phil was six rolled into one!

Fact #2 - Phil had a gentle heart. He loved animals and chatting with 'little old ladies".

Fact #3 - IF IT HAD WHEELS AND MOVED HE LOVED IT!! Tricycles, Big Wheels, Skateboards, Bicycles, Motorcycles and Cars. When Philip turned 13 we flew to Orlando, Florida where he celebrated his Birthday. We will not forget the excitement in his eyes when the jet became airborne. Thus began ANOTHER PASSION in his life. His dream was to eventually become a pilot and "reach for the stars".

Fact #4 - Philip was not a "follower". Though he had no siblings he gathered friends quickly. He had laughing eyes, a quirky grin and an easy going sense of humor. As a man, qualities others admired in him was his willingness to work hard, be dependable & responsible and his honesty. He gained the respect of those who knew him. Obviously we are proud parents and could rattle on endlessly.

Sgt. Philip James Svitak was like many of you. He was an avid mountain biker who enjoyed the thrill of competition rides or maybe just a laid back pleasant afternoon pumping off some miles. A couple of Phil's FAVORITE spots he spoke of often was the dangerous Devil's Den in Arkansas and the awesome grandeur of Moab, Utah. He relished the excitement and boundless joy of FREEDOM he gained while absorbing the wonders of nature. Sharing laughter and quality friendship time with fellow cyclists provided a special bonding effect.

Being an only child Phil was a "joiner" and shared his life with an assortment of many families over the years. Parents, friends and relatives plus his own small family consisting of his wife Laura and their two sons Ethan and Nolan. Fun times were spent with these families and eventually with fellow cyclists also.

The Challenging Daredevil in him came to the forefront when he became a member of the Elite Special Forces team known as the NIGHTSTALKERS. These were his "brothers at arms" the tight knit group he dedicated his life to. Philip adhered completely and wholeheartedly to the Night Stalker Creed. His destiny being tied forevermore to the positive saying - "NIGHTSTALKERS DON'T QUIT"

HISTORY OF THE RIDE

In August of 2002 Amy Thomas (a fellow Joplin group cyclist) created the Freedom Ride in order to honor Phil's Ultimate Sacrifice to his country. We sincerely say THANK YOU Amy and want you to know we have always appreciated all the work you put forth expressing the gratitude you felt. Amy continued to hold the reins to the Svitak Freedom Ride until the demanding responsibilities of motherhood and new job positions made it hard for her to continue her commitment to the ride and she reluctantly passed the Baton on.

We had a hard decision to make when selecting a new Event Planner. The Joplin "Y" expressed interest as did a young woman who worked there at the time. After much consideration we decided to choose Ruth Sawkins of Rufus Racing to pick up where Amy left off. Ruth's husband's name was Phil, it seemed to be a positive omen. But when the Sawkins' growing brood of three children arrived over the years, Ruth cut back on some of her event workload. In 2019 we switched to a nonprofit Organization called the "Red Sea Fitness Club". It had been chosen to HOPEFULLY continue the ride.

As everyone is aware, when 2020 rolled around America was introduced to the dreaded COVID-19 VIRUS. Covid-19 managed to bring time honored activities, much needed jobs and everyone's lives to a screeching halt! Endangering lives of cyclists who have become friends over the years was NOT EVEN an option, therefore no "ACTUAL" Ride was held in 2020.

Richard and I DID want to bring Christmas joy in some way, shape or form to children located in the Joplin area. We spoke to several of our Sponsors and, with the help of their generous donations, the Svitak Freedom Ride WAS able to provide at least SOME toys for children at Christmastime in 2020.

THANKFULLY AND HOPEFULLY 2021 is slowly beginning to show signs of a MUCH NEEDED economic and physical recovery. 2021 will also be an important landmark year as it is the 20th Anniversary of the Svitak Freedom Ride. In order to pay homage to this eventful stepping stone Richard and I will be hosting this particular "Ride With Pride".

DESIRED GOALS

We wish to provide cyclist with a pleasant day partaking in their favorite sport and the opportunity to enable us to again obtain bicycles for children of service men and women stationed at Fort Leonard Wood. A Christmas tree sporting their very own bicycle from Santa - how delightful!!! A new goal we will be striving for is to eventually be able to help with fundraising events in the Joplin area. We are looking forward to seeing ya all again!!


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