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The 1st Tenderness Tour
The First Tenderness Tour - 41 Days, 1086 Miles

It was October 8, 1989. I was sitting alone in my wheelchair in front of the offices of Prevent Child Abuse, Indiana. I had a backpack on my wheelchair, $20 in my pocket, a few letters on my possession and a desire to discover hope in a world where I had too often experienced hopelessness.

That day, the Tenderness Tour began.

The Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse, Indiana was surprised to see me. Sure, she'd received my letter telling her about my project. I was going to wheel around the state of Indiana in my wheelchair raising money for her organization.

I wanted to tell my story...the good, the bad, the joys, the sorrows and everything in between.

I'd never done anything like it. Truth be told, I'd never amounted to much of anything.

I was in my early 20's, living with spina bifida, had recently become a double, below knee amputee and within the span of that year had lost my wife, my newborn child, my home and, in all honesty, my will to live. I was a sexual abuse survivor, and had become a self-destructive, overwhelmingly negative, attention-seeking ball of rage.

The Tenderness Tour was my last ditch effort to see if there was a reason to live.​

Since 1989, my life has changed dramatically. I returned home from that first Tenderness Tour and knew that I had to change the way I was living. I returned to college, Martin University and studied. HARD. I decided I didn't want to live on disability anymore and decided to do everything in my
power to change it. Within 3 years, I was a college valedictorian and was working full time in healthcare. I was driving my own car, and within five years of college graduation had purchase my own home. Yes, I was off disability. ​

​ And, I've continued my wheeling. Since 1989, I've traveled right around 4,000 miles by wheelchair on my Tenderness Tour with three trips from Indy to Chicago, a trip to Cincinnati, a trip to Lexington and several other trips including shorter trips around the country. I've helped raise nearly $400,000 for children's organizations around the world, but I've maintained the Tenderness Tour's all-volunteer, grassroots tradition. Since day one, 100% of the funds raised on the road have been donated to organizations working to break the cycle of abuse/violence.

I've donated funds in EVERY country of the world, and have spoken to thousands of adults and children at little or no cost. In 2009, the Tenderness Tour celebrated its 20th anniversary and, for the second time, I found myself wheeling across the state of Indiana. Plans are already underway for the 25th anniversary in two years!

​For so long, I thought that sexual abuse was my story. After 20 years on the road, I've come to realize that THIS, the Tenderness Tour and all it represents, this is my story.


Richard Propes
Founder, The Tenderness Tour

If you'd have told me I could do this, I'd have laughed! I did it. :)

October 8, 1989: Indy to Greenfield                                 Nov. 1, 1989: Delphi to Logansport
October 9, 1989: Greenfield to Shelbyville                        Nov. 2, 1989: Logansport to Rochester
October 10, 1989: Shelbyville to Greensburg                   Nov. 3, 1989:  Rochester to Plymouth
October 11, 1989: Greensburg to North Vernon               Nov. 4, 1989: Plymouth to South Bend
October 12, 1989: North Vernon to Seymour                    Nov. 5, 1989: S. Bend to Mishawaka
October 13, 1989: Seymour to Scottsburg                        Nov. 6, 1989: Mishawaka to Elkhart
October 14, 1989: Scottsburg to Salem                             Nov. 7, 1989: Elkhart to Goshen
October 15, 1989: Salem to Paoli                                       Nov. 8, 1989: Goshen to Warsaw
October 16, 1989: Paoli to French Lick                               Nov. 9, 1989: Warsaw to Columbia City
October 17, 1989: French Lick to Jasper                           Nov. 10, 1989: Col. City to Ft. Wayne
October 18, 1989: Jasper to Huntingburg                         Nov. 11, 1989: Ft. Wayne to Huntington
October 19, 1989: Huntingburg to Evansville                    Nov. 12, 1989: Huntington to Wabash
October 20, 1989: Evansville to Princeton                        Nov. 13, 1989:  Wabash to Marion
October 21, 1989: Princeton to Vincennes                        Nov. 14, 1989: Marion to Alexandria
October 22, 1989: Vincennes to Sullivan                           Nov. 15, 1989: Alexandria to Anderson
October 23, 1989: Sullivan to Linton                                 Nov. 16, 1989:  Anderson to Noblesville
October 24, 1989: Linton to Bloomington                          Nov. 17, 1989: Noblesville to Carmel
October 25, 1989: Bloomington to Spencer                       Nov. 18, 1989: Carmel to Indy
October 26, 1989: Spencer to Terre Haute                       1990: Follow up events in several cities.
October 27, 1989: Terre Haute to Clinton                       
October 28, 1989: Clinton to Rockville                              
October 29, 1989: Rockville to Crawfordsville
October 30, 1989: Crawfordsville to W. Lafayette
October 31, 1989: W. Lafayette to Delphi

About the Tenderness Tour

Since 1989, Indianapolis activist Richard Propes has wheeled nearly 5,000 miles raising thousands of dollars in what he calls a grassroots effort to create a kinder, more inspired world through The Tenderness Tour. This is his story.

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The Tenderness Center
1100 W. 42nd Street
Suite 220A
Indianapolis, IN 46208