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April 4th, 2010
Ride 2 Recovery to arrive in San Marcos Tuesday

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About 100 recent war veterans with combat-induced injuries will be in San Marcos Tuesday as they ride from San Antonio to Arlington.

By SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

Wounded veterans engaged in a 350-mile therapeutic bicycle trek will make a stop in San Marcos Tuesday.

Actor Adam Baldwin has agreed to join the veterans on their six-day journey from San Antonio to Arlington. Ride 2 Recovery is a program initiated three years ago by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to aid in the mental and physical rehabilitation of wounded veterans.

The program is produced by the Fitness Challenge Foundation, a  nonprofit group. Participating veterans suffer from combat-induced maladies such as amputations, burns, traumatic brain injury, and post traumatic stress disorder.

“We’re just proud to be able to kind of host them while they’re in San Marcos,” said American Legion Auxiliary Unit 144 President Pat Murdock.

Murdock said about 60 riders took part in the event last year.

City of San Marcos Recreation Manager Lisa Morris said the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars will serve the riders dinner Tuesday night, the same time as the city council meeting. Morris said Mayor Susan Narvaiz may leave the meeting briefly to welcome the soldiers, who will stay the night at the Embassy Suites San Marcos Hotel, Spa and Conference Center.

“We expect at least 100 injured veterans to take part, and some additional general public riders,” said Ride 2 Recovery Executive Director John Wordin, a professional cyclist and former United States Marine. Wordin  said he helped create the program at the VA’s request.

Wordin said the “beauty of cycling” is that “it’s an activity that almost all wounded warriors can participate in.” Morris said bicycles used in the event sometimes need to be modified to accommodate the veterans’ injuries.

Wordin said the mental and physical trial of the Ride 2 Recovery program “instills a sense of purpose and a sense of hope to those wounded warriors that are rehabilitating,” and “changes their lives.”

By way of illustration, Wordin read an excerpt of a letter sent to him from one program participant.

“I want to extend to you a big thanks for what your program has done to me,” wrote the veteran. “Before I took part in the program, my thoughts were out of control, and I didn’t know how to handle anything.”

Quoted Wordin from another letter: “Dear John, I honestly owe you my life,” wrote the veteran. “I cannot express the feeling that I get from cycling and the ability to connect with other vets at these events.”

Wordin said the presenting sponsor for the Ride 2 Recovery event is United Healthcare, and its main partners are the USO and American Legion Families.

Wordin said people can support the Ride 2 Recovery program by cheering for the cyclists and/or purchasing tickets to ride with them for a day. Wordin said the proceeds from ticket sales are used to buy bicycles and equipment used in the program.

More than 30,000 soldiers have been wounded in action in Iraq since 2003, and 896 were injured in “non-hostile” circumstances. About 5,000 soldiers have been wounded in action since 2001 in operations associated with the Afghanistan campaign, and 270 were injured in non-hostile circumstances.

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