The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 3, 2012

Neosho native joins cross-country effort to raise awareness about veterans issues

Although Neosho native Glenn Isaac Fretz is paralyzed from the chest down, he soon will join other veterans on a cross-country journey that once seemed impossible.

Fretz will pedal across the United States on a hand cycle, using upper body strength rather than his legs.

Imagine sitting in a wagon, pulling yourself up a hill with a rope, “one pull at a time,” he said. That’s the way it is with a hand cycle, with the rider inching along with each crank.

Most people pedal uphill at speeds of 7 to 15 miles per hour, Fretz said; he averages 1 to 3 mph uphill.

On the flats, he does a little better.

“I can do 26 miles in two hours and 20 minutes,” said Fretz, who lives in Norman, Okla.

Fretz graduated from Neosho High School in 1989; his parents still live in the town. He served with the Army’s 3rd Armored Division in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. He said it was there that he suffered serious injures that included spinal cord damage, a crushing injury to his hand and TBI, or traumatic brain injury.

The injury to his brain left him with no memory of how he was injured or what he was doing when it happened. He knows only that he was on a medical evacuation mission to retrieve injured troops.

“I was coming off an evac track,” he said, referring to a tracked vehicle used to evacuate troops, but even now he isn’t sure what happened next.

The injuries set him back mentally as well as physically.

“When I was injured, my cognitive level went to the fourth-grade level in some areas and the second-grade level in others,” he said. “But by 2004, I was back on the college level, and in 2009, I graduated from the University of Oklahoma.”

Fretz left the service in 1994. A few years later, he was involved in a car accident in California that rebroke vertebrae in his back and neck.

“I went through over 10 years of rehabilitation,” he said. “The first two years, I was learning how to sit up again and learning to do things that most people take for granted, like buttoning up your shirt.”

Fretz has been competing as a wheelchair athlete since 2002. Last month, he won silver medals in wheelchair basketball and hand-cycling competitions as part of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Richmond, Va. The event is the largest of its kind for wheelchair athletes.

Later this month, he leaves with four other veterans who will ride bicycles and hand cycles across the United States as part of the Long Road Home Project.

The route will take the riders through a dozen military bases, beginning July 15 with Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state and ending three months later in Washington, D.C. The ride will pass through hundreds of small towns where the riders will interact with local veterans organizations.

Text Only
Local News
  • 0420earthday.jpg Prairie State Park kicks off Earth Day events

    Prairie State Park began celebrating Earth Day early with an event Saturday that provided a chance for people of all ages to learn more about how they can protect the environment.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Catholic schools to hold annual spring auction

    The Joplin Area Catholic Schools spring auction will be staged Saturday at the Jack Lawton Webb Convention Center, 5300 S. Range Line Road in Joplin.

    April 19, 2014

  • Wally Kennedy MUG72.jpg Wally Kennedy: Another pizza choice and ice cream on the way

    A new pizza restaurant is coming to the northwest corner of Stone’s Corner in the Village of Airport Drive. Piez is opening this week in a storefront that formerly housed Quincy Magoo’s, 6039 N. Main Street Road, which has been closed for more than two years.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • mike pound_cnhi .jpg Mike Pound: No more hiding Easter eggs or emotions

    Well, that’s a wrap on the Easter egg hunts. For about 15 years we have staged not one, but two Easter egg hunts for our now 16-year-old daughter, Emma.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042017 Jo Ellis_c.jpg Carthage Historic Preservation to re-create trolley era

    Recapturing history is difficult, but recapturing history without a building, an artifact or a singular focal point is even harder. To celebrate National Historic Preservation Month, Carthage Historic Preservation wants to recapture an era and an experience that have been gone from the city for almost 80 years: the era of the trolley (or tram) cars that provided public transportation.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Mosaic pieces together purpose

    Today I want to tell you about a man named John — a man I never knew existed until last week. And yet he’s making a difference in my community. He is an individual served by Mosaic of Southeast Kansas, which also, I learned, is making a difference.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Last two safe room projects up for Joplin School Board approval

    The Joplin Board of Education during its meeting tonight will consider more than $2.4 million in bid packages for safe rooms at Columbia and West Central elementary schools.

    April 20, 2014

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Candidates for associate judge address GOP group

    The response was all but unanimous among four candidates seeking two Jasper County associate circuit judge positions. Asked to cite the biggest obstacle to justice in Jasper County, three of the four said the most prevalent challenge is getting the needed time on a busy court docket.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

Must Read


The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, following Russia's buildup of forces near its border with Ukraine. Do you think we should deploy these troops?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter