A longtime event is seeing major changes designed to include you.
Soldier Ride Jacksonville will be moving off Naval Station Mayport and into two Northeast Florida communities this week.
Soldier Ride has been rolling since 2004 and is an iconic event for Wounded Warrior Project, the veterans service organization headquartered in Jacksonville.
"Since then, we've grown Soldier Ride to be about 40 adaptive cycling events a year in cities all over the country," said Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Linnington, CEO of WWP. "We were in San Diego last week. This weekend is our habitual time for doing a ride in Jacksonville."
Linnington has been involved in some of these events, in which 30 or 40 riders overcome the physical obstacle of riding 40 miles in two days. Some of the warriors have physical injuries. Some have unseen wounds. And all of them need to rebuild the bonds of friendship and community.
"Certainly, last year, I remember distinctly this was sometimes the first event these warriors have been out of the house for in many months," Linnington said. "So giving them this opportunity to be in a setting that they're comfortable in, with service members that have experienced the same thing they have, really starts their healing process."
For the Jacksonville event this year, warriors will come in on Thursday and then ride Friday from the WWP headquarters on Belfort Road. On Saturday, they will ride at World Golf Village. That’s where the community can show support.
"Listen, transitioning from the military to civilian life is really hard for many people. For someone who has faced the difficulties of being wounded or injured, those obstacles are even greater, so having the community come out to embrace our riders is important this weekend," Linnington said. "I just welcome everybody that's watching to come out and show your support."
The huge takeaway for veterans is that 85 percent of participants say Soldier Ride helps them connect with the local community.
So how do you show support?
On Friday and Saturday, Soldier Ride begins at about 9:30 a.m. and wraps up at about noon.
People are encouraged to be there to wave flags, hold posters and cheer for those veterans getting support for the next phase of life.
Click here to learn more about Soldier Ride.
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