Cathy Crane, Monroe County Director of Veterans Affairs, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about the upcoming Wounded Warrior Ride.
The event will be this Friday and Saturday and the route will extend from the Upper, Middle and Lower Keys. It’s the 20th ride for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Crane said, “The solider ride is aiming to build confidence and strengthen these warrior who have come home and or are coming straight out of Walter Reed Medical Center and are trying to recover from wounds whether they’re visible or invisible, and to build that strength and that bond that they learned in service and to rehabilitate into either society, or to reintegrate into what they knew before or to know what they knew and learned in service.”
The Soldier Ride is an opportunity for the population at large to thank our veterans as well as show them our support.
Crane said, “These warriors definitely need to see our appreciation for all that they’ve done and all of the sacrifices they have made for our country. This ride is intended to increase their motivation, their confidence and to also show them that they can get out of their homes, they can try something new to try to learn a new skill and a new experience. The Florida Keys is a beautiful environment, and we’re better to try to learn a new skill of riding and then to do it throughout the Florida Keys.”
The Soldier Ride actually started with just one person 20 years ago.
Crane said, “Mike Carney started the soldier ride 20 years ago. He decided to ride across 5000 miles across the United States. He got on his bike to raise awareness about veterans and in honor of those who served and trucked across and said I’m going to raise awareness and to promote awareness about Wounded Warrior Project. Then the very following year, those from Operation Enduring Freedom joined him in that ride and then it just took off from there. Here we are 20 years later, and Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride is where it is today.”
More than 17,000 warriors have benefited since its inception.
The ride begins Friday January 5 at the Key Largo VFW Post 10211 at 8:30 a.m. There will be a 9:30 water stop at Coral Shores High School at Tavernier. It ends around 10:30 at the Postcard Inn Resort and Marina.
At 1:30 p.m. the ride heads from the Marathon Fire Station across the Seven Mile Bridge and ends at the Veterans Memorial Beach on the south end of the bridge around 2:30.
Crane said, “The Saturday part of the route is the Lower Keys into Key West and that portion of the ride departs Naval Air Station Key West on Boca Chica at 10:30am to Bayview Park, into Key West, where the welcome ceremony will be at noon. For those looking to ride with the Warriors, there is a community ride at 12:45pm from Bayview Park throughout Key West returning to the park at 2pm. We really encourage the community to come out and celebrate these warriors as they cycle through our beautiful island chain. Line the roads, greet these warriors, wave your American flags and thank these warriors for their service to our country. It’s critical for them, their mental health and their resilience for their service and sacrifice for all they’ve done.”
There are 35 riders slated to ride this year and some will be coming straight from Walter Reed Medical Center.
Crane said, “Every year, we see individuals who actually participate in this ride who come back and come through our office to thank us for being able to participate in Soldier Ride and they would have never heard of Wounded Warrior Project. Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride is a unique one in itself. They come back to our office all the time to thank us and last year Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride stopped into Veterans Memorial Beach, which is just south of the Seven Mile Bridge and aw warrior who had just come out of Walter Reed Medical Center was lifted out of her wheelchair, and placed into a Mobi wheelchair, which allows you to go into the sand and into the water. This was done by fellow warriors that she had just met, never integrated with before. That’s what this is all about. They wheeled her into the water. Her mother was there as a caretaker and began to sob. It was so overwhelming for the warrior and for her mother and she began to FaceTime her family, and what an experience and that’s the bond and the strength and the camaraderie that Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride is all about. You could just see that this project works in that confidence and that strength and those bonds. You can see how Wounded Warrior is just what it’s supposed to be. It’s about rebuilding that confidence and doing something you never thought you could do and that takeaway.”
Please make sure to come out and support these warriors.
Crane said, “I want to thank US International Airport, one of our major sponsors and all of our partners in this event, Military Affairs Committee, Monroe County BOCC, the City of Key West, Marathon, Islamorada, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, the Navy, the Coast Guard, and everyone who comes out and supports the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride. We really appreciate Wounded Warrior Project for allowing us to host this event every year. It is an honor and a privilege to thank those who served.”
For more information, call 305-295-5150.
Crane said, “I hope everyone comes out, waves your flags and greets these warriors as they ride throughout the Florida Keys.”
The website is here: https://www.monroecounty-fl.gov/123/Veterans-Affairs