NEW ORLEANS – This weekend the streets of the city will be filled with a special group of people on bikes as they embark on a long journey across the Gulf Coast.
The ride is expected to take a week, though the hope is that the impact will last a lot longer.
Several injured military veterans arrived Friday morning by plane and will spend the next week on two wheels. It will be the second annual Ride 2 Recovery.
The ride, a six-day, 400-mile trek from New Orleans to Tallahassee, will be used to raise awareness and funds for rehabilitation programs for the nation’s veterans.
Alison Green injured her foot while deployed in Kuwait. She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder until the Ride 2 Recovery changed everything.
“It was an incredible experience,” she said. “I became so much more motivated. I started losing the weight I had gained. It really, really helped me get back into focusing on the positive things in life.”
When the Road 2 Recovery begins Sunday morning, it will have an inspirational leader in former Saints safety and special teams’ star Steve Gleason. He and his wife will be riding this year, leading the pack of 200 riders and they will fittingly leave from the Superdome.
Steve will ride his custom-made tandem bike from United Healthcare. It personifies the spirit that each injured veteran wants to deliver.
“It enables people to stand up and be proud of themselves,” said Debora Spano of Road 2 Recovery. “They can say, ‘I’m gonna do this. I’m challenging myself and I’m going to make this happen.’”
The Army’s Landon Ranker says the Ride 2 Recovery rekindles old friendships, but more importantly starts new ones.
“Once you’ve done this for a couple of months or over a year, you’re starting to help some of the other veterans to get active again,” he said. “That’s probably the best part of it.”
The ride raises money for new equipment and programs on military installations and VA hospitals around the country.
They have six rides every year in the United States and one in Europe. They are full this year with 200 riders.