Staff Report~ 10/3/2013
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A team of cyclists that includes several Marines, including those injured in combat, and families of fallen soldiers will pedal 430 miles in 4 days through Arizona’s mountain ranges to support military service people and their families.
“The Ride 430 Challenge” begins Oct. 9, leaving from DNA Cycles in Scottsdale. It ends Oct. 12 at the Commemorative Air Force Arizona Wing Aviation Museum in Mesa.
In 2012, “The Ride 430 Challenge” raised $520,000.
For the event’s sixth year, the cycling team will travel through Arizona towns, including Cave Creek, Wickenburg, Prescott, Payson and Mesa. New this year will be “fan zones” located just outside select towns along the Yarnell Mountain climb during day two of the ride. Family, friends and local residents can line up in these fan zones to support and cheer on the team as they cycle through.
The participating riders devote 5 months to a rigorous training regime. During the challenge, they will travel as much as 100 miles a day, often in searing temperatures, and tackle 16,000 vertical feet of climbing. That’s the equivalent of running a marathon every day for 4 days. Echoing the military’s commitment to “no one left behind,” riders start—and finish—every leg of every ride together.
“Our riders are not professional athletes nor are they American heroes, but we are dedicated to giving back,” said John Greenway, founder and chairman of The Ride 430 Challenge. “We will push our bodies and fundraising abilities to the limit to show our appreciation and gratitude for the people who serve this country.”
On average, riders each raise $5,000 for the cause.
More than 320,000 deployed soldiers have come home from Iraq or Afghanistan with a traumatic brain injury. Eleven percent of those who fought in these wars have endured an amputation, and nearly 21 percent—or 300,000 service men and women—are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. These signature injuries of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan mean extensive, long-term treatment and therapy, and the need for assistance and support will continue long after troops are brought home.
The funds raised through this year’s ride will help supplement military assistance and bridge gaps to ensure families have everything they need for a successful recovery.
Donations to the ride provide everything from financial assistance and scholarships to adaptive sports equipment and camps for children who have lost a parent in combat.
Beneficiary organizations include The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, the Knights of Heroes Foundation and The MARSOC Foundation.
“The Ride 430 Challenge,” known previously as “The Ride for Semper Fi,” has grown rapidly since its inception in 2008. In its first 5 years, the team of riders has raised more than $1.3 million.
Each year, the team selects fallen soldiers to honor and keep in remembrance during the ride.
In a special tribute to the service men and women who not only serve in the military, but who also protect their local communities, the ride will honor the 19 fallen firefighters from Prescott.
The team also will honor United States Air Force Col. James McNicholas, who was a member of secret squadron that flew many highly classified missions during the Vietnam War. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross medal, America’s oldest military aviation award. His son, Dave McNicholas, will be a participant in this year’s “Ride430 Challenge.”
Honoring his father’s military service and achievements is an important reason for participating in “the Ride,” but Dave also honors who his father was as a person, friend and mentor to all those around him.
“I remember at his Air Force retirement dinner, there were several people that stood up and talked to him,” Dave said. “Several generals and friends he had flown with that I knew. But there were several people there that I didn't recognize. These were the enlisted people who had worked for him. When they talked, he had a proud smile. They had driven for miles, and some had flown in just to thank him. They were telling stories of how much he had changed their lives. I just remember being choked up because I was so proud of him.”
To learn more about “The Ride 430 Challenge,” or to make a donation, visit www.ride430.com.