It couldn’t have been a more beautiful morning for a very special journey of healing and fellowship for wounded veterans, as a group of our nation’s heroes began a journey toward recovery alongside their fellow warriors.
For the eighth year, the Residence Inn at Aventura Mall hosted over 40 wounded war heroes for a 48-mile ride around Miami and Key West. Specially-adapted bikes accommodated those with prosthetic limbs and other injuries, and throughout the weekend, the participants who came from around the country enjoyed this chance to heal their bodies and minds. For some, this event was the first time during their healing process that they ventured out of their homes to connect with the community. Many wounded veterans face similar challenges with isolation when transitioning to civilian life, and gatherings like this offer a way to bond with other warriors and learn they are not alone.
The Soldier Ride introduces wounded veterans to the Wounded Warrior Project long-term health and wellness programs, which include physical training, outdoor events and nutrition classes.
The Residence Inn becomes the homebase for these warriors as they bike to Marlins Park, over the Seven Mile Bridge and the Veterans Memorial in Islamorada, and to Bayview Park in Key West. “It was once again our honor to host them here in Aventura for the eighth year. We proudly support this group and it’s our pleasure to give back by supporting this event each year for those soldiers who have served the country on our behalf” said hotel manager Miguel Hoyer.
The Aventura Marketing Council (AMC) /World-Class Chamber of Commerce rallied their members to come out early in the morning to meet the warriors and wish them well as they depart. Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman said, “I was so proud to be there. These men and women are truly inspirational. They are our heroes. I was delighted that the ROTC students from Dr. Michael Krop High School had the opportunity to interact with them.” Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman noted, “It is truly an honor to participate in this ‘honor, fellowship and healing event. These men and women warriors are remarkable.”
AMC Chairman, Gary Pyott, President of FirstService Residential Florida, added, “As the AMC strives to support the most respected organizations, we were very proud to organize the community send-off for this Soldier Ride, demonstrating our commitment to support, partner and assist in achieving the Vision of the Wounded Warrior Project which is “...to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history”.
Even though it was still winter break from school, 18 cadets from Dr. Michael Krop Sr. High School J-ROTC were there, under the direction of Capt. Jacklyn Gallagher.
Adam Faine, Manager for the Soldier Ride, thanked the Residence Inn and the Aventura community for their continued support and presented a plaque to Mayor Weisman and special pins for all the J-ROTC cadets. Faine said "Soldier Ride brings together wounded veterans who don’t know each other and by the end of the event, they are like family. The group bonds through the challenges of the bike ride and the engagement of other activities like swimming with dolphins or holding a baby tiger. They start to laugh and open up with each other, breaking the chain of isolation since leaving the military. Wounded Warrior Project’s mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors, and through programs like Soldier Ride, combined with great community support, wounded warriors connect with other veterans, gain tools for success, and regain their quality of life."
For more information on the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride, visit soldierride.org