Hundreds of people came out to AT&T Stadium on Friday to greet former and current military members and their supporters as they finished a 490-mile bicycle ride from Houston to Arlington.
With shouts of “USA!” and high-fives and fist bumps with people lining the roads, the cyclists rolled into the stadium to have lunch and celebrate the end of the Texas Ride 2 Recovery Challenge.
One participant, Army Sgt. 1st Class Audra Edelen, said she took to cycling after injuring her knees in Afghanistan and didn’t realize how much the Ride 2 Recovery would affect her.
“I love the camaraderie and while getting in shape,” said Edelen, who is stationed at Fort Sam Houston and was an avid runner before her injuries. “People come cheer for you, shouting: ‘You can do it! Keep going!’ We are like a big family.”
When the riders went through Fort Hood this week, she said, soldiers lined the road and cheered.
“I can’t even put it into words,” she said. “It inspires us and makes us want to keep going.”
The challenge, sponsored by UnitedHealthcare and the USO, takes place in cities nationwide. In the Texas event, about 230 riders made the last leg of the trip from Cleburne to Arlington.
Courtney Anderson, USO mobile program manager, said it’s important for injured military members to feel support from the community.
“People who don’t see our wounded veterans, this event lets them see the price of freedom,” she said.
A few former Dallas Cowboys players participated in the ride, including defensive great Charles Haley, Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett and former running back Felix Jones.
“These people put their lives on the line to protect our freedom,” Jones said. “This is big for me because I have family members in the military. I want them to know we care and appreciate what they do.”