Wounded warrior creates cycling program
December 19, 2013
By Ben Sherman
FORT SILL, Okla. (Dec. 19, 2013) -- You see a lot of Soldiers and other people riding bicycles around Fort Sill. And in the past year many more cyclists can be seen riding on post, due in large part to the efforts of one wounded warrior, Sgt. Peter Webb.
A 16-year veteran, Webb served with A Company, 700th Brigade Support Battalion, 45th Infantry Combat Brigade of the Oklahoma National Guard. Webb's passion for cycling led him to develop an effective program of adaptive sports, to help fellow wounded warriors on the road to healing.
"I've been in the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Sill for about 22 months. I received a back injury with nerve damage in Afghanistan in 2011 when I was injured on a mission. We were recovering a vehicle that had been damaged by a roadside explosive device and I was injured during the recovery operations," said Webb. "I was injured in combat but I wasn't wounded. I wasn't shot or blown up or anything like that. And I ended up having back surgery in February of this year.
"I had a ridden a road bike before I was injured and so I just took it up as a physical therapy. I wanted to provide the opportunity for other Soldiers who hadn't tried cycling, for them to give it a shot. The WTU had some equipment here and I heard it was not being used. So I decided to try and develop a program," Webb said.
One of Webb's biggest supporters is Jillinda Briggs, WTU Adaptive Sports program coordinator. From the first time she met him she could see he had a will to succeed and a passion for helping his fellow Soldiers.
"When I came here in March Webb was in charge of the cycling group. They had no funds and very limited equipment. So I told him we had to have statistics, numbers that would show that this is a very important program. So he came up with the metrics that showed that even though the numbers were small, that the potential was there. And I took those numbers and put them out where support groups would see the need," Briggs said.
Webb demonstrated there was interest in having a cycling program at Fort Sill. And so the program grew from two bicycles to six bicycles, and now has gone over 30 bikes through the help of several support organizations. There are now between 20 and 25 members of the WTU who are active in cycling.
"We had a wait-list of 15 Soldiers who were waiting to get on a cycle before we received the donations. We weren't even promoting the cycling program because we didn't have enough bikes for them. So it was great to get more cycles," Briggs said.
"They have ridden over 900 miles since Webb came, and one of the Soldiers dropped over 50 pounds of weight since he got on an adaptive cycle.
Webb also began training the Soldiers on the proper ways to ride the bikes, how to maintain them and get the most benefit from riding them.
And, the program has grown from there," Briggs said.
"Cycling is a great alternative sport for Soldiers like me because I have a back injury and I can't run or do high-impact exercise anymore," said Webb. "And Capt. Justin Crowe, the WTU commander, has been supportive by allowing the wounded warriors to use cycles during their physical training times, since many are not able to do regular exercises. So cycling gives us opportunities to get out and be active again versus being stuck in the hospital environment."
On Dec. 9, Webb was presented the Army Achievement Medal by Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, for his work in developing and expanding the adaptive cycling program for WTU Soldiers. But when you talk to Webb, he downplays his role in the program, stating that he has just pursued his love for cycling while showing his fellow Soldiers how it can benefit them. But Briggs will tell you differently.
"When he came here he was on a walker and a cane, and he could barely walk. But instead of sinking into depression, he took a different route. Now, as he transitions out of the Army he wants to pursue a career in the field of adaptive sports recreation. Webb truly embodies the mission of what the WTU is all about," Briggs said.