By Staff Sgt. Wesley Farnsworth, 633rd Air Base Wing Public AffairsJune 10, 2013
FORT EUSTIS, Va. -- As the sun shined high in the noon sky, sirens wailed in the distance. As the sound grew louder, a sea of blue and white could be seen as approximately 200 bicyclists arrived at Gate 2, escorted by a handful of police motorcycles.
This group of riders visited Fort Eustis, Va., May 31 to meet with injured veterans at the Warrior Transition Unit while participating in a multi-day challenge sponsored by Ride 2 Recovery, a non-profit organization for injured veterans and healing heroes.
The challenge covered approximately 350 miles, pushing the riders to their limit both physically and mentally as part of their recovery process. R2R helps injured veterans improve their health and wellness through cycling. The group has established Project HERO programs at 34 military installations and three VA sites, which helps create personalized and progressive programs that fit the needs of the individual patients to promote a fuller, quicker rehabilitation.
The group started out May 26 in Washington, D.C., and finished their journey in Virginia Beach, Va., June 2.
During their stop at Fort Eustis, the riders biked around post visiting several locations before attending a luncheon sponsored by the Warrior Transition Unit.
"We are honored to have the riders come by our campus today. When you watch all of those riders come up the street, it touches you," said U.S. Army Capt. Erika Wall, WTU commander. "We had seven Soldiers from our WTU participating in the ride and it allows us to show our support of the Army's efforts in the use of adaptive sports in the wounded Soldiers rehabilitation."
During the visit, cyclists heard from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark MacCarley, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command deputy chief of staff.
"I'm proud to be here today with you," MacCarley said. "Your riding is an expression of your motivation."
He thanked the riders for their sacrifices and continued dedication to service.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Daniel Dudek, Warrior Transition Command deputy chief of staff, participated in the event because of his love of cycling and what it does to aid in the recovery process.
Dudek explained that after an injury, it's difficult to participate in sports at a competitive level, but cycling allows veterans to still compete athletically while helping them to recover physically. He suffered a spinal cord injury from an improvised explosive device blast, but he still serves in the Army through the Army's Continuation On Active Duty (COAD) program and enjoys cycling as a way to build camaraderie with other WTU members.
"We all came out of a WTU," Dudek said. "It was great to be able to interact with other wounded warriors and the cadre here at this WTU, and hearing from the general was a real honor."
As their visit came to a close, the riders packed up their gear and began preparing for the rest of the journey, leaving their determination and spirit behind to inspire the veterans at the WTU.