JACKSONVILLE, Fla., (September 25, 2015) – When Randy Horton hit the road from Newport Beach, California, it was a hot and sunny day. It is then fitting that he arrived in Jacksonville to almost identical weather. Starting on the wooden slats of the Newport Beach Pier 26 days ago, with nothing but supplies, his bicycle, and the grit to go the distance, the 64-year-old veteran has peddled over 3,000 miles, averaging 110 to 120 miles per day.
“I’m passionate about supporting our nation’s injured service members – the few who fight to protect the freedom of this great country,” said Randy. “Many come home with wounds you can and can’t see, like a missing limb, combat stress, or depression.”
Today, Randy reached the final leg of his 3,074-mile quest to raise awareness and funds for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), whose mission is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. The WWP staff applauded Randy as he arrived and walked his bicycle into the Jacksonville Headquarters.
“I’m not usually an emotional guy,” Randy said. “But grown men do cry. I was absolutely amazed and humbled by the reception I received. Words can't express how it felt."
Randy reached his final destination in St. Augustine this afternoon, having raised more than $7,000 since he first set off on his journey. The trip has been extremely personal to Randy, who remarked that he wanted to travel alone due to his feelings and experiences as a veteran.
“It’s how I felt when I came back from Vietnam. Alone,” Randy said. “We can and should do something to help our veterans. That’s the motivation behind the whole trip.””
It’s a feeling and experience that many veterans, past and present, have faced upon their return to civilian life. With the vision of WWP being to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history, it is fitting that WWP’s logo is of one warrior carrying another. It serves as a reminder to veterans that they are not alone in their recovery. Most importantly, that there are resources available for those who seek help and that others have been through what they have.
When asked about the achievement of riding across the country, Randy stated that while he was able to take time out of his daily schedule to go on this journey, he recognizes that for many of the veterans he’s raising awareness for there’s a long road to recovery.
“There are men and women out there who aren't just giving 30 days out of their life, they're coming back from war zone areas and they have a whole lifetime of readjusting ahead of them,” Horton said. “They're the real heroes."
As for what’s next for Randy? He says that when he returns to California, he’s going to take some time off to recover by visiting with friends and family, but Randy plans to continue supporting Wounded Warrior Project any way he can.
“I'm not done yet,” Horton said. "We cannot do everything as individuals, but every one of us can do one thing."
Those interested in supporting Randy and donating to WWP can do so by visiting https://fundraise.woundedwarriorproject.org/rtt/Fundraising/individual/rideacrossamerica.