25 July, 2006

Soldier Ride

Here's a "support the troops" opportunity for Southern California:

Soldiers' Angels (the non-profit that runs Project Valour-IT) has been working with another organization that helps America's wounded military personnel: Soldier Ride.

Take a close look at the picture of Soldier Ride cyclists below.

Every year Soldier Ride sponsors a cross-country cycling trip to raise money for their adaptive cycling events and the Wounded Warrior Project, and to show the wounded they are loved and supported. Soldier Ride is stopping at 70 major cities from coast to coast, where they participate in activities that highlight the sacrifice of military personnel or the physical and emotional suppport that is out there for our wounded vets.

One wounded rider wrote after his participation:

Soldier Ride was designed to raise money and awareness for wounded soldiers coming out of this war, but what it really did was prove to wounded soldiers like myself that anything was possible. It proved to us that society would accept us the way we are and not outcast us... This event was life-changing and the memory will last forever!
Here's a biographical sketch of another participant, taken from the Soldier Ride Website:

Cpl. Kevin Blanchard is a 23 year old retired Marine who lost his left leg and suffered severe wounds to his right leg in an IED explosion while serving in Iraq... Kevin joined us on the ride from Little Rock to Branson, his second cycling trip with Soldier Ride.... When Kevin first joined Soldier Ride for a cycling clinic in Florida this winter, his right leg wasn't strong enough for him to use a traditional bicycle. He used a handcycle, a three wheeled bicycle that you pedal with your hands. "It's a testament to Kevin's courage and determination that he was able to transition so quickly to using a traditional bicycle," [Soldier Ride Exeuctive Director] Nardizzi said. "He was even able to tackle the tough hills through the Ozarks." Kevin attributes his recovery to the excellent medical care he received at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and his participation in rehabilitative events like Soldier Ride. When asked about participating in Soldier Ride again, Kevin replied "I'm hooked... I'll be doing it as long as you guys do it."

[Soldier Ride's website has more rider profiles and video of participants and events.]

Most participants have ridden only portions of the cross-country course, but a small group of both wounded and non-wounded soldiers have ridden the entire distance from coast to coast. They will be arriving on the West Coast this Saturday at San Clemente Beach (just south of Los Angeles). Representatives from Soldiers' Angels will be there for a press conference, special ceremony and beach party that will be attended by various dignitaries, celebrities, and reportedly some pretty good bands.

Supporters of our military men and women are invited to join the party at San Clemente State Beach this Saturday (July 30) to welcome the Soldier Ride paritcipants as they complete their coast-to-coast trek. Festivities begin at 3 p.m. Hope to see you there!

To donate to Soldier Ride, click here.