St. Pete cycling event helps local veterans

Project Hero cycling event rides through St. Pete
Project Hero cycling event rides through St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.  (WFLA) – If you happened to be in downtown St. Petersburg by Tropicana Field on Saturday morning, you might have noticed a lot of bicyclists out there on the roads.

Those folks on the bikes weren’t just your everyday riders. They’re known as “Healing Heroes” and it’s all part of the 2017 United Healthcare Fallen Honor Ride.

Veterans and first-responders got on their bikes and took to the streets. They have injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, and also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I wake up every day thinking about how I can handle the next day and make it better than the one before,” said Nathan Dewalt of Ride To Recovery.

Dewalt is paralyzed from the waist down after a motorcycle accident and this veteran’s dreams of one day becoming a Seal were dashed but it didn’t put his life on hold.

“I have a passion,” Dewalt told News Channel 8.  “I’m a veteran myself.  My friends, my family, my brothers and sisters in arms, they grow from this program.”

Rides like this are part of Project Hero, a national nonprofit organization that helps the veterans and first-responders with rehabilitation, recovery, and allowing folks to get back to their everyday lives.

“One of the beautiful things about the cycling program is that they can orient the bikes to the injuries,” Tom Moore of United Healthcare told News Channel 8.  “So we have some blind veterans that are riding on the backs of tandems.  We have bikes that they’re able to work with their prosthetics.”

With more than 500 riders on Saturday, the goal is to raise $100,000.

The veterans and first-responders not about to let anything or anyone get between them and the open road.

Project Hero has helped tens of thousands of our healing heroes at no cost through cycling events and other events in more than 50 cities throughout the US, not to mention raising money to support research.

The programs have helped more than 10,000 veterans and first-responders through cycling based programs and other events in the last 8 years.

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