The April showers that soaked the Lone Star State did not dampen the spirits of some 170 wounded warriors who powered and pedaled through about 500 miles of Texas roadway last week.
The cyclists were part of the 7th annual UnitedHealthcare Ride 2 Recovery Texas Challenge, a seven-day ride from Houston to Fort Worth that raises funds and awareness for wounded veterans, even as the rigorous ride raises their spirits.
Between Sunday, April 19 and Saturday, April 25, the warriors biked through a number of communities between Houston and Fort Worth, including College Station, Georgetown, Fort Hood, Waco and Cleburne. In big cities and small towns, they received a warm and well-deserved heroes’ welcome.
The veterans – some with visible injuries and others whose wounds are hidden – rode on a variety of bicycles. Many bikes were specially designed or adapted to accommodate warriors missing hands or feet, while one veteran who lost her vision in an explosion in Iraq was riding on a tandem bike.
“Just cycling with other veterans is a therapeutic way, not only to stay in shape, but connect with other people,” Texas veteran Jonathan Dade told KTRH radio in Houston. “It is my therapy. Instead of going to a doctor each week or talking to a counselor, I get on my bike; I relax and talk to other people. The challenge is something I train for, but it’s also part of what I need to do.”
As Ride 2 Recovery’s President John Wordin told the Houston Chronicle, “The UnitedHealthcare Challenge Series is all about the mental and physical challenge of getting your life back by restoring hope and purpose. For these men and women, cycling becomes a life-changing addition to their physical and mental rehabilitation.”
The event is also close to the heart of its lead sponsor, whose employees look forward to rallying around a group of people who have sacrificed so much for our country.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to help make this event come to life and to support the exercise and rehabilitation services that are important to the health and well-being of our veterans,” Tom Quirk, chief executive officer, UnitedHealthcare of Texas told The Humble Observer.