NORFOLK — More than thirty-two adaptive cyclists from various parts of the county participated in a Warrior Ride that began onboard Naval Station Norfolk, April 28. Over three days, cyclists trekked 55 miles – some of which had specially designed bicycles and/or three-wheel recumbent bicycles. Thanks to the generosity of several businesses and individual donors, there was no cost to veterans who participated in the event.
The Warrior Rides are coordinated by a husband and wife team, Bob and Debra Racine from Oak Island, NC. They held their first adaptive cycling event in 2005 and this year they are planning to host six rides at locations across the country, which is considerably more than they have done in past years. “There’s more Wounded Warriors coming back from conflict,” said Bob Racine, founder of the non-profit organization, The Warrior Ride. “The demand to get them out to do rehabilitation, rehabilitative rides or relaxation rides ... a lot of them are lost with their injuries and don’t know what to do. So, the more of these rides we can do, three and a half days really creates a bonding cycle that they become friends for
Adapting bicycles to specific injuries can be a challenging task, but the results are rewarding and the Wounded Warriors reap the benefits.
“We have recumbents with mesh seating because of spinal injuries ... if they are missing legs, we have hand cycles and they can pedal with their arms,” said Racine. “We try to meet the needs of their injuries. More and more, because of PTSD and TBI (post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury), they have a lack of balance. So we put them on something that’s three-wheels, close to the ground and they can’t fall out of it.”
Events such as The Warrior Ride serve as a tool for recreation and rehabilitation for wounded service members, but it is also an opportunity for communities to get involved in the process.
“Normally we invite the communities to come and join and ride with us,” said Racine. “On a three-day event, we have a community ride day. And that’s what we do to raise funds to pay for our events.”
There were several “first-time” riders who came out to the event, but there were also seasoned riders such as Senior Master Sergeant Rainier “Ray” Schroeder (Ret. Air Force) and Operations Specialist 1st class (SW) Ronald Mayfield (Ret. Navy).
Schroeder has participated in adaptive cycling events for three years.
“This is my third year riding with a hand crank, because I’ve got a bad leg,” said Schroeder. “I can only use my arms. I can’t pedal.”
Schroeder is often seen riding with a “Brain Helmet,” which is courtesy of The Lynn A. Chiaverotti Memorial Fund, which receives support from the Defense Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). The helmets are part of the “Use Your Brain” project that operates with the goal of raising awareness and preventing TBI. TBI is the result of a blow to the head that causes the brain to move around violently in the skull. Multi-use sport “Brain Helmets” are available to military families thanks to a generous grant from the DVBIC. Visit www.thelynnfund.org for more information.
Mayfield attended his first adaptive cycling event in 2008. He has become an inspiration and a mentor for new riders. He was accidentally shot in the head by another hunter on opening day of hunting season, 1996, in Sussex County, Va. Because he was shot on the left side of his brain, it caused severe weakness on his right side as well as speech impairment. Mayfield spent 11 years in recovery, having to re-learn how to speak and walk again. He spoke of how the Warrior Ride creates long-lasting friendships.
“The first day of a run it’s nervous, because people don’t know anything, second day they’ve bonded,” said Mayfield. “Third day, it’s a fellowship.”
Over the years, Mayfield’s speech has improved dramatically, he now organizes Warrior Rides in Virginia and is the Adaptive Sports Coordinator for The Warrior Ride.
Racine explained the costs associated with hosting the adaptive cycling event.
“It takes about $10,000 per event. By the time we fly people in, pay for hotels, the meals,” said Racine. “It costs the Wounded Warriors not a penny. We cover everything for them!”
Racine explained that finishing a ride can be an uplifting experience for the riders. “Once they finish a ride, they say “If I can do this, I can do everything else,’” he said.
“I may be physically tired, but spiritually and emotionally I’m all charged up,” said Schroeder. “I see my comrades and I can relate to a lot of them because they have similar injuries that I have. So, to me, it’s been a rehab to me personally.”
To donate funds and/or find out more about Warrior Rides, visit www.thewarriorride.com.
Editor’s note: A photo that was associated with last week’s Press Release on The Warrior Ride was from a group called Hope for the Warriors®. Hope For The Warriors® is a national, nonprofit organization that supports wounded U.S. service members, their families, and families of the fallen.