Friday, February 8, 2013
Wet weather didn't stop several dozen people with various injuries and disabilities from taking a 17-mile bike ride from National City to Coronado this morning. They were taking part in the Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride, which was started by a civilian 10 years ago in New York.
"I use to ride for recreation, but never at the level I am now," said Steven Peace, who was gearing up for a long bike ride on a specially equipped one-of-a-kind racer made just for him.
This is his 13th Soldier Ride.
"I was placed on the U.S. national team and paralympics, but not bad," he said.
Not bad indeed for this 16-year veteran of the Navy who suffered a debilitating stroke and could barely move 10 years ago. He's now a mentor for other injured troops.
"They said, 'well he's probably never going to walk, he might have to speak a little slowly,' which ok, so we got that right," Peace said while chuckling.
The Soldier Ride has been called one of the most inspiring athletic events in the country. Fifty men and women from Washington D.C. to Mississippi, Texas and Washington states have joined their comrades in San Diego for a weekend of fellowship.
"There's Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy, but it doesn't matter. Just like sitting around at the bar," Peace said.
The mission of the ride is to empower and honor wounded warriors and raise public awareness about the plight of our injured services members.
Julia Valentour with the Wounded Warrior Project said that camaraderie really helps.
"A lot of veterans tend to isolate, they feel like people don't understand them, but if we can keep getting them out and involved in community events and having fun and feeling like they're in a safe environment, it can encourage them to keep doing that once they get home," she said.
The veterans stretched to prepare for the ride, posed for a group photo, then it was off to the Bay Shore bike lane in National City with a ride through Imperial Beach and a finish 17 miles later on Coronado.