San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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by PAT MURDOCK

More than 200 wounded U.S. veterans and support personnel participating in the Ride 2 Recovery Texas Challenge will come rolling into San Marcos between 2 and 3 p.m. Monday, April 16, for the first top on their six-day trek to Arlington.

For the fourth consecutive year, the San Marcos community will welcome the heroes participating in the cycling program that is presented by UnitedHealthcare.

San Marcos is the first overnight stop for riders who will start their ride at 10 a.m. April 16 at the Center for the Intrepid at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. On the way to San Marcos, they will stop for lunch at the Marion School in Guadalupe County. The following day, they will move on toward Austin, where they will spend their second night on the road. Additional overnight stays will be at Fort Hood, Waco, Cleburne and Arlington.

This year, the riders and support crew will be staying at Country Inn and Suites, 1560 South I-35, and Comfort Suites, 104 North I-35.  San Marcos American Legion and Auxiliary Post and Unit 144 will host a spaghetti dinner for the visitors at 6 p.m. at the San Marcos Activity Center, located at 501 E. Hopkins Street.

In addition to the spaghetti dinner, ride participants, their supporters and guests will be treated to a movie night at the San Marcos Activity Center. The film to be shown is titled Rebirth, a feature-length documentary combining time-lapse photography with the stories of individuals shaped by September 11.

The documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2011. It is the result of a decade-long process by director Jim Whitaker and is described as “a riveting journey into living history.” It is also an act of personal witness to one of the most profound events in American history and the healing that has come in its wake.

Project Rebirth executive director Caitlin Olson and Tim Brown, one of the five people featured in the documentary, are expected to attend the dinner and movie showing in San Marcos.

From early 2002 through 2009, the Project Rebirth film crew chronicled the lives of five people directly affected by the terrorist attacks that came on Sept. 11, 2001. The participants include a survivor from an impact floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC); a firefighter who survived the collapse of the WTC but lost his best friend; a high school student who lost his mother; a young woman who lost her fiancé; and a construction worker who lost his brother, assisted with recovery efforts, and is presently helping to build the Freedom Tower. Their narratives are the thread of recovery and resiliency from grief, loss and trauma that comprise the unique message of the 108-minute film.

The film’s message is expected to have special meaning to the injured veterans participating in Ride 2 Recovery, who have turned to cycling to help speed up the recovery and rehabilitation process. The duration bike riding challenges each rider physically, mentally and emotionally as they set individual goals for their trip. The physical challenge and a group experience help them learn to heal mentally and emotionally, ride organizers say.

On Tuesday, April 17, riders will all depart from the Country Inn and Suites in two groups – one at 9:15 a.m. and the second at 9:30 a.m. following a route out of town that will take them down Hunter Road to San Antonio Street, through the downtown San Marcos area, by the Texas State University campus and out on Post Road to Austin.

Although Ride 2 Recovery founder and executive director John Wordin will be a part of the group arriving in San Marcos April 16, the Texas Challenge has a new Ride director this year – Bruce Gustafson – and a new logistics director, Christopher Swan. San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams is coordinating local escort arrangements.

The entire San Marcos community is invited to welcome the riders to San Marcos and to see them off Tuesday morning. Members of Beta Sigma Phi service sorority have volunteered to assist with dinner service and clean up for 250 at the San Marcos Activity Center. Lockhart and Luling American Legion Auxiliary Units are pitching in to provide homemade cakes for dessert. The Seguin Unit has contributed funds to help support the dinner in San Marcos. A number of American Legion and Auxiliary officials from around the area will attend, along with San Marcos and Hays County government officials.

For more information on local Ride 2 Recovery events or to see how you can get involved, call American Legion Auxiliary President Pat Murdock at 512-353-1943 or American Legion Commander Tom Tvrdik at 512-353-8443.

Ride 2 Recovery, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, helps to improve the health and wellness of injured veterans through indoor and outdoor cycling. Cycling is an important part of the recovery process because it is an activity that almost all patients with mental and physical disabilities can participate, and it helps to speed up the rehabilitation process. Funds raised support the participation of injured veterans in events as well as the purchase of necessary bikes, helmets and other technical equipment. Bikes are often custom fitted to the physical needs of each rider.

Ride 2 Recovery is produced in partnership with presenting sponsor UnitedHealthcare as well as national sponsors American Airlines, the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary, BAE Systems, Bell Helicopter, Deloitte, Department of Defense, Kenda, Hero Miles, Macy’s, MGM Resorts, Monster Energy, Shimano and the USO.

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