Tony Cirrincione embarked on a biking trek on May 15th from San Diego, Calif., heading for Darkhorse Lodge in Springville with one mission in mind, raising money and awareness for combat Veterans. He arrived at his destination on Friday.
Cirrincione dedicated his ride and the more than $6,000 raised to the men and women who sacrifice their lives to keep the country safe. He said he got involved after learning about the Darkhorse Lodge while riding through Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps Base in Camp Pendleton, Calif.
When he found out the lodge was being built by Gretchen Catherwood and her husband, Kirk, he knew he found a calling. Cirrincione explained that it was personal. While going through a deeply troubling time in high school, Gretchen who attended the same school and was a childhood friend, walked with him home after school and comforted him. “You may not always remember what people say, but you always remember how they made you feel,” he recalled.
Gretchen and Kirk Catherwood are currently constructing a lodge in Springville that will serve as a retreat for combat veterans. The Darkhorse Lodge is in memory of the Catherwood’s son, LCpl Alec Catherwood and his 24 Marine Corps brothers, all KIA in Afghanistan during the 3/5 Darkhorse unit’s deployment in 2010/2011.
Gretchen Catherwood said the lodge will host up to 25 Veterans from all branches of service, all wars/conflicts, and it is open to women and men. She said, “We will provide them with a place to come together and communicate with other Veterans who have been where they have been, either figuratively or literally.”
So far, Darkhorse Lodge has seven buildings on the rural property with exteriors done and plumbing roughed-in. Catherwood said, “We are actively seeking financial donations as well as donations of materials to complete our build. Once up and running, we will offer combat Veterans a chance to come fish on Kentucky Lake and enjoy area activities. As many people know, we are losing an average of 22 Veterans per day to suicide. At Darkhorse Lodge, we hope to reduce that number by as many Veterans as possible with help from our incredible supporters, like Tony Cirrincione.”
Cirrincione concluded, “I did this to raise money for the Darkhorse Lodge in Tennessee. Darkhorse Lodge is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) retreat for combat veterans of all branches to relax and relate to others who have walked in their boots. I can’t imagine losing a child nor can I imagine what it is like for the men and women in the military. God Bless you all.”
Darkhorse Lodge is located on Swor Rd. in Springville. The lodge can be reached at (731) 363-3616.