Injured troops, supporters expected to finish 490-mile bike ride in Arlington on Friday

03/27/2014 4:01 PM

03/27/2014 4:05 PM

More than 200 cyclists including injured veterans and their supporters are expected to depart from Cleburne on Friday morning and make their way through Mansfield before arriving at AT&T Stadium for a hero’s welcome and lunch.

It is the last leg of the sixth annual Ride 2 Recovery Texas Challenge, a 490-mile journey that began Sunday in Houston.

The group also stopped in College Station, Georgetown, Fort Hood and Waco.

A special Honor Ride in memory of Marine Sgt. Clay Hunt, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is set for Saturday in Fort Worth. He had to fight again after he returned home to deal with physical and emotional effects of the war. He lost that battle and took his own life in 2011.

The general public is invited to participate in this ride with three distances of 25, 35 or 65 miles.

Injured veterans will be riding bicycles, hand-cycles and recumbent bicycles, where the rider lays back in a reclining position. The event, sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, is part of the Ride 2 Recovery cycling programs that help military veterans with physical and mental rehabilitation.

“Many of the veterans who participate in the Ride 2 Recovery cycling challenges have lost an arm, or both legs, suffered brain trauma or some other type of invisible injury,” Tom Quirk, CEO UnitedHealthcare of Texas, said in a news release. “They have suffered through tremendous physical and emotional trauma. This event is a way to help them with their recovery pushing through physical challenges on a bike and connecting with others who have had similar experiences.”

Debora Spano, spokeswoman for Ride 2 Recovery, said the cycling program allows veterans to push themselves physically to help them regain strength as they heal.

“The ride will help injured veterans develop a sense of camaraderie with fellow riders and allow them to talk with others who have had similar experiences,” she said.

The event is a fundraiser, so injured veterans don’t have to pay to ride. Other participants are required to raise $3,000.

“As we ride along the route through Central Texas, the most rewarding and inspirational part is to see families, children and other veterans come out along the bike route to cheer on and support the cyclists,” Quirk said.

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