By Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff Writer
The next time you take your bicycle out for a spin, think of riding uphill with a prosthetic leg. Seems impossible?
Not so for Ride 2 Recovery, a national non-profit that uses cycling to heal war veterans’ physical and emotional wounds. On Aug. 9, the group received a $10,000 donation from NRECA to support the group’s programs, which include adapting bikes for injured veterans and staging multi-day cycling events.
Retired four-star Gen. George W. Casey Jr., a former U.S. Army Chief of Staff, accepted the donation on the group’s behalf at NRECA’s Benefits Update Conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.
A board member of Ride 2 Recovery who’s ridden in many cycling events, Casey told the gathering of co-op benefits administrators about hearing “stories of commitment and courage” from wounded vets riding alongside him.
Casey recalled pedaling a mountainous stretch of the 9/11 Challenge, a five-day 530-mile event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the attacks. “It was 42 degrees and raining. We’re about halfway up this mountain. I’m suffering… then I heard this person coming up behind me. As he passes me, he says, ‘Come on, general. You can do it.’”
The rider was a young Army veteran who had lost his leg in Afghanistan.
“He passed me after what he’s been through,” Casey told the group. “I said, ‘Stop whining, general. Get your butt up the hill.’ And I did it.”
The $10,000 donation is the first time NRECA has directly supported Ride 2 Recovery, said Peter Baxter, NRECA senior vice president of insurance and financial services.
A cyclist himself who met Casey at a recent R2R event, Baxter said later this year he will “explore ways that NRECA and Co-op Nation can further participate and benefit from this great program” for co-op employees and vets returning to co-op communities.
Baxter described his 40-plus mile ride in Virginia “as an incredibly rewarding experience from which I have received some real inspiration to push myself harder and further than I thought I could. The veterans in this program are doing that every day, and they should be an example for all of us.”