Michael Manning graduated from high school in 1996 in Mobile AL, near the Gulf of Mexico. This was an ideal location for Michael to grow up, as even in the middle of winter, he could spend time catching bass and having fun on the beach.
Living now in Dixon TN, Michael moved north, near Nashville, to be close to his wife’s family. He is the only male in his household, living with six women - his wife, four stepdaughters and his eight-year-old daughter. His family plans to drive to meet him and the team during the Sea to Shining Sea ride’s two-day rest in St. Louis in early July.
Michael looks forward to his participation in the Sea to Shining Sea. Having completed the Gulf Coast Challenge with the non-profit Ride 2 Recovery, he feels he is ready to take on something even bigger.
Following his return from Iraq in 2003, he struggled for seven years with a variety of mental health issues. In March 2010, he accepted admission into a VA hospital for six weeks of rehabilitation.
A high school friend, Thomas Ederette, serves as Michael’s mentor. Thomas came across the country to see and support Michael when he was in the VA hospital, as soon as he learned of his difficulties. He showed up with a Popsicle and a solution. Because of their long friendship, Thomas convinced Michael he could still do anything he wanted, just as he did when he was young.
Thomas told Michael that he started working at a bicycle shop, which encouraged him to start riding. He wanted Michael to understand the freedom one feels and gets while riding. Thomas knew in his heart that riding would pull his friend through any challenges, both physical and mental.
Michael listened to his friend’s advice, and started bicycling. He now understands what Thomas told him about freedom as he rides and enjoys the outdoors, as he did when young, on the Gulf Coast.