America Supports You: Veterans to See Stars on ‘Road 2 Recovery’
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2008 Dozens of injured troops set out on a seven-day, 420-mile trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Sept. 28 to raise funds to support outdoor cycling programs and to let other wounded servicemembers know they can be active.
Wounded troops and Road2Recovery volunteers get a little morale from Shell Beach Elementary students and teachers as they arrive in Pismo Beach, Calif., on one leg of their seven-day, 420-mile ride between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Oct. 1, 2008. The Road2Recovery California Challenge supports military and veterans outdoor cycling programs. Courtesy photo by Road2Recovery
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“This trip is not so much about having fun as it is about transforming your new body with something you can work with the rest of your life,” former Army Capt. Ferris Butler said about Road2Recovery’s California Challenge.
In fact, the Challenge, which began with 60 riders, was part of Road2Recovery’s mission of improving wounded servicemembers’ health and wellness through life-changing experiences. Road2Recovery is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.
“The goal was to get wounded warriors who had never ridden a bike [since being injured] out on a bike and to have an experience of a lifetime,” said John Wordin, founder of Road2Recovery and the Fitness Challenge Foundation. “Not only [to show them] that it could be done, but that cycling is a therapeutic outlet that can really benefit them in their recovery.”
Cycling can be an important part of recovery for wounded troops, Wordin said, because almost anyone with mental or physical disabilities can participate and it helps to speed up the recovery process.
While the riders promoted cycling as an integral part of a recovery process, they didn’t go on the grueling trip alone. Actor Mike Vogel, star of the movie “Cloverdale” and chairman of this year’s Veterans Affairs National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans, participated, as did fellow actors Gary Sinise and Ed Begley Jr. Other riders included cycling Olympian Wayne Stetina and the National Board of the United Service Organizations.
The Challenge passed several military bases and was welcomed for rest stops and dinners at several veteran service organization posts before arriving at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs medical facility, where they were treated to a USO-sponsored concert by Sinise’s “Lt. Dan Band.”
The effort is estimated to have raised $100,000 in support of “Spinning” group cycling classes and other outdoor cycling programs at military and Veterans Affairs locations across the country.
The Road2Recovery team will be in Virginia Beach, Va., Oct. 10 to 12 to introduce the military installations in the area to its program. Wordin said he hopes to conduct six of these events across the country next year.