MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Dozens of former military service members are pedalling with a purpose as part of an event two decades in the making.
Thursday morning, 40 warriors set off on an inspirational journey as the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride began.
The bike ride will take them three days, riding all the way to Key West.
Police from all over South Florida supported them along the way.
The Wounded Warrior Project organizes the soldier ride every year. In fact this, is their 20th year doing the event.
It’s an event that brings veterans from every military branch together.
“The ride is really about getting the warriors off the couch and back into society doing something they never thought they could be doing again,” Devin Schei said.
Schei is one of the riders. He served in the U.S. Army for four years and was injured in Afghanistan in 2010.
“I spent about two and a half years in the hospital in Texas,” Schei said. “Saved my leg, go through procedures, shrapnel on the side of my body, hearing out of my left ear was gone, eyesight out of my left eye was gone.”
Despite overcoming physical injuries, invisible scars were left behind.
That’s when he said the Wounded Warrior project saved his life.
“After I attempted suicide, I reached out to them and they invited me to soldier ride in Phoenix, Arizona, and I showed up, and it completely changed my life altogether,” he said.
“We found time and time again that physical activity and exposure to sunshine and connection with each other is improving mental health, it’s reducing stress,” James Herrera said.
Herrera, another army vet, said it’s the camaraderie that has the biggest impact on warriors.
“We get to sit down and break bread and laugh, joke and reconnect,” he said.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s going to get me back to being active,” a veteran said.
As the riders complete the first part of their ride from Miami Beach to LoanDepot Park, they’re gearing up for another long ride starting in Key Largo, which ends in Big Pine Key, Friday.
“It’s not difficult for us because we have each other,” a veteran said.
On Saturday, these warriors will do a 17-mile ride through Key West.
It’s all to be together and to be able to connect with one another.
For more information on the Wounded Warrior Project, click here.
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