Alex Raymond loved cycling and Cartin says a memorial bicycle ride would be the perfect way to honor the Army veteran, who died in 2011 at the age of 23.
The ride will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19. Participants, depending on their skill level, will be able to choose from a 16-mile or 32-mile option. The start and finish points will be at West Hill Bike Shop in Putney. There will be free breakfast food and T-shirts for all registrants. The $20 entry fees and other donations collected will be given to several charities Raymond would have liked.
"This is (the first event in Raymond's memory) and hopefully it will not be the last," Cartin said. "I had been thinking about doing something. I had a pocket of money that I got from being his widow -- there was money because he was in the Army.
"I didn't need it, but they give it to you anyway," she added. "I wanted to do something for the other guys in his unit and something in his memory."
Cartin, who now lives in Warner, N.H., said her friend Chelsey Gallup and the owners of the West Hill Bike Shop have been extremely helpful organizing the event.
The charities Cartin has in mind include The Arms Forces, which helps veterans dealing with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries and the Afghan Stray Animal League, which runs an animal shelter in Afghanistan and helps veterans bring home dogs adopted while over there. She is also interested in helping Children of the Earth, a youth version of the Tom Brown Tracker School, which is a renowned tracking and wilderness survival school Raymond had hoped to attend.
There is also Vermont Fathers, a group that promotes fathers' rights in custody battles (Raymond had fought for custody rights of a son with a former girlfriend), and Ride 2 Recovery, which supports outdoor cycling programs around the country to help injured veterans.
"Alex was an extremely giving person. He gave everything of himself to his friends, his family, his job and his country," Cartin said. "So doing an event that generates money for donating to causes he was connected with felt like an appropriate memorial."
Born in Canada, Raymond moved to the United States with his family when he was 9 and grew up in Putney. He joined the Army as an infantryman in 2008 and served in Afghanistan. He came home with a traumatic brain injury and his life was never the same.
"The phrase he always used was that he was 'in a fog,'" Cartin, who remarried in late June, told the Reformer. "He had trouble thinking and focusing and sleeping and he was drinking a lot."
Raymond died as the result of a firearm mishap on July 14, 2011.
"He was an old-school kind of guy ... 'If there's nothing physically wrong with me, there's nothing wrong with me,'" Cartin recalled, adding that this is a big reason charities benefiting veterans with PTSD and brain injuries are so close to her heart.
Anyone interested in participating in the memorial bicycle ride or sending donations can e-mail Cartin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 802-579-5576. There is also a Facebook page for the memorial bike ride: https://www.facebook.com/AlexCRaymondMemorial
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.