71ºF

Bicyclist pedals from California to Florida to support veterans

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A cross country bike ride that began nearly two months ago will come to an end in St. Augustine Beach on Tuesday afternoon. 

The journey is one man’s effort to raise money for the group Warriors Heart Foundation.

Buzz Ponce began pedaling in Oceanside, California near San Diego at the beginning of May. He has only taken a few days off along the way, making the cross country journey in less than two months. He has traveled about 50 miles each day to reach his destination in St Augustine Beach. 

“Riding bike across country to raise money for charity- sometimes it’s pretty hellacious. Today was pretty typical. I went about 50 miles today and the heat and humidity is brutal. There’s no way around it,” said Ponce. “Often times I’m just struggling out there, but I kind of switch gears and think about how I’m doing this for a pretty darn good reason-to help people who need help.”

Ponce says he wanted to do something different and memorable to celebrate his 70th birthday in just a few days. He hopes to help others with this bike ride which will raise money for the Warriors Heart Foundation. The organization helps prevent veteran and first responder suicide. 

On average, there are 20 veteran suicides in the country each day and one law enforcement suicide every 62 hours. Earlier this year, Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law that will cover post-traumatic stress disorder under workers compensation for first responders- even if they don’t sustain a physical injury. That law will go into effect on October 1st.

The money Ponce is raising along the way will help fund scholarships for people to go through the program offered by Warriors Heart.

“It’s a real motivator and it’s an inspiration for me,” said Ponce.

This isn’t his first time doing something like this. He has also traveled from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. 

Ponce said he will have a huge smile on his face when he reaches the sandy beach at the St Augustine Pier around noon.