More than 100 wounded veterans and supporters arrived in Killeen on Wednesday during part of a more than 500-mile ride that started Monday in San Antonio.
The cyclists rolled into the Cleo Bay Subaru dealership on Stan Schlueter Loop about 1 p.m. and were treated to a “pit stop” of snacks, water and use of the facilities. It was also a chance for the Killeen community to express its gratitude to the wounded warriors.
“We like to support our local soldiers and veterans,” said Mark McGee, general manager of Cleo Bay Subaru.
“We feel it’s important to let them know we care, as a store and a community.”
Mayor greets riders
Also, in attendance was Killeen Mayor Jose L. Segarra, who shook hands and greeted the riders.
“It’s an honor for them to stop by our city, while they are going on to Fort Hood and all the other cities,” Segarra said. “It just kind of shows, as a community, that we come out and always support all of the things that our veterans do.
“We are a military community and it’s great that they are out here.”
The 2017 United Healthcare Ride to Recovery Texas Challenge, benefiting the injured veteran riders of Project Hero, is a noncompetitive, therapeutic bike tour that will traverse north from San Antonio to Waco and then southeast to its conclusion in Houston on Saturday.
“(This challenge) is an important way for our veterans to achieve hope, recovery and resilience, which is the mission of Project Hero,” said Peter Bylsma, director of marketing communications for Project Hero. “It’s helping our veterans reintegrate (with others) and live healthy lives.”
Project Hero is a nonprofit group that helps veterans and first responders affected by injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury achieve rehabilitation, recovery and resilience in their daily lives.
Six-year Navy veteran Jonathan Dade, who suffered a head injury and developed sciatica from an untreated back injury, has been a part of Project Hero for several years now.
“I got out of the military in 2009, (but) I really didn’t come to terms with injuring myself, (all of the) emotional stress and my back was killing me,” he said. “In 2011, when my friends could really tell I was struggling and wasn’t taking care of myself.”
It led to a recommendation Dade join Ride to Recovery with Project Hero. “So I did a one-day challenge in D.C.,” he said. “Ever since then I’ve been trying to aim to do one a year.”
For Dade, a Georgetown resident, the chance to stay in shape, make connections with people and reduce doctor visits and medications has really helped him. The riders will stop at Fort Hood this morning before riding to Waco later today.