JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Dec. 20, 2017 -- Thousands of warriors pedaled thousands of miles in 2017 as part of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Soldier Ride® events across America. For many, the event was an introduction to how WWP serves warriors, their families, and caregivers through free programs and services. Others were familiar with these resources, and the ride was yet another opportunity to connect with fellow veterans in their local communities. For others, it was the next step in an ongoing journey toward recovery by getting physically active again.
There was something for everyone at each of the 24 cities Soldier Ride visited. Each had its own unique stops, supporters, and landmark events. Just the same, each warrior made his or her own memories from days spent riding bicycles alongside fellow wounded service members. Over the course of the year, several wounded warriors shared what Soldier Ride means to them – whether it was getting on the bike for the first time, making a new friend, or even shaking the hand of the President of the United States at the White House.
ARLINGTON, Texas, Dec.16, 2017 -- Although baseball season is officially over for the year, veterans and their families recently enjoyed a special tour of Globe Life Park with the Texas Rangers and Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). Baseball fans followed a guided tour for a unique experience, seeing places only players usually get to see.
"The kids and I loved the behind-the-scenes ballpark tour," said Navy veteran Paul Chabot. "We bought Texas Rangers gear and plan to attend games next year. I really appreciate Wounded Warrior Project family events — they help bring us closer together, while also connecting with other families sharing similar backgrounds."
DALLAS, Dec. 13, 2017 -- The largest McAlister's Deli® franchisee, The Saxton Group, recently completed its Cookies for a Cause campaign, which raised support for the warriors Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) serves. The campaign was a huge success with 96,000 camouflage and gold star sprinkle cookies sold during the month of November.
"We may live in the land of the free, but only because of the sacrifices of the brave women and men like those Wounded Warrior Project serves," stated co-CEO Adam Saxton. "That's why The Saxton Group was so honored to sell camouflage and gold star sprinkle cookies at all 75 of our McAlister's Deli locations. Our guests loved them so much and we're thrilled to donate $48,000 to support the ongoing efforts and the mission of Wounded Warrior Project."
WAILUKU, Hawaii, Dec.13, 2017 -- With at least 100 to 150 feet of prime diving visibility below them off Molokini Beach, injured veterans and their families mingled with unique fish and wildlife at a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connection event. The group put on masks, fins, and snorkels as they tapped into the healing powers of nature and physical activity.
Army veteran Brad Juliano said he had fun with his kids and fellow snorkelers as they floated and observed nature's beauty. "My highlights were actually snorkeling and getting to meet other Wounded Warrior Project veterans."
The warriors and families interacted with colorful fish, viewed beautiful reefs, and visited a local bird sanctuary.
MIAMI, Dec.11, 2017 -- Creativity was in high gear for injured veterans attending singer/songwriter Elsten Torres' Songwriting for Life workshop at a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connection event.
"I don't usually go anywhere other than the Veteran Affairs hospital, and I don't ordinarily interact with anyone other than my wife," said Army Reserve veteran Luis Garzon. "I see Wounded Warrior Project as a source of positive distraction, leisure, relaxation, and learning outside of my house. I try to register for all Wounded Warrior Project events in Miami that I find interesting."
Isolation is one of the most significant struggles wounded warriors deal with after serving their country. It can be difficult knowing how to overcome that challenge and rekindle bonds similar to those formed in the military.
RIO RANCHO, N.M., Dec. 7, 2017 -- The Jaynes Corporation recently rallied around a wounded veteran and his family by providing some much-needed renovations to their home. The Schei family, served by Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), got a major overhaul of their residence to better help seriously wounded Army veteran Erik Schei move around his home.
The help – and the materials for the overhaul – were fully provided by the Jaynes Corporation through Doug Boling, senior estimator with Jaynes Corporation and vice-chair of the YMCA of Central New Mexico Corporate Board.
Thanks to generous donors, WWP is able to serve warriors by connecting them with one another and their communities and empowering them to live life on their terms.
LAS VEGAS, Dec. 6, 2017 -- Whether it's young entrepreneurs, college students, or corporate executives, the supporters of Wounded Warrior Project®(WWP) come from all walks of life. Big or small, their support enables WWP to connect wounded veterans with programs and services that empower them to live their lives on their terms. Recently, Las Vegas-based magician Mike Hammer hosted a celebrity go-kart race to raise awareness and support for the warriors WWP serves.
Mike's father served in the military – in 1958, he was deployed to Korea. That service, along with Mike's prior philanthropic work in the Las Vegas community, moved him to give back to WWP.
"I first heard of Wounded Warrior Project when I volunteered my time to meet up with some wounded veterans and show them close-up magic," Mike said. "I performed card tricks and some other tricks I like to do during acts. We got to talking about our backgrounds, and they spoke of their service. I was very impressed with the stories of these veterans and what they had been through. I wanted to do something for them and make a difference."
WINTER PARK, Fla., Dec. 1, 2017 -- Injured veterans, their families, and guests recently participated in a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connection event where they learned how to paddleboard. As the lessons progressed from onshore to the lake, apprehension quickly faded as participants gained confidence using their new skills.
Wife and husband warriors Rebecca (Navy) and Bo Benton (Marine Corps) realized the importance of slowing down and enjoying the moment.
"This has become important in both our recoveries, as we are dual warriors and can get lost in either our own struggles or our partner's," Rebecca said. "Wounded Warrior Project has been beneficial in giving us opportunities, like paddleboarding, to make memories with our children and each other, while learning new coping skills in the process."
OHIOPYLE, Pa., Nov. 30, 2017 -- Veterans got physical on a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) hike at beautiful Ohiopyle State Park. Warriors trekked to Cucumber Falls and then on to Great Gorge Trail – totaling close to five miles.
"It's a great opportunity to get out and spend time with other veterans and to challenge yourself to accomplish goals you thought you couldn't," said Navy veteran Jason Miller. "It was a workout, but fun, challenging, and a great experience." Jason also said this event encouraged him to participate in other WWP connection events.
WWP program events like this give wounded warriors an opportunity to experience veteran peer support firsthand. These social gatherings get them out of the house and connect them with fellow service members and their communities.
COLUMBIA, S.C., Nov. 29, 2017 -- Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans and their family members answered the call for help from those in need by volunteering with Harvest Hope Food Bank. Volunteers fed the hungry across 20 South Carolina counties and helped their community by distributing food and offering emotional support to area residents this holiday season.
"Helping at a food bank is something I have wanted to do for a long time," said Laura Efrid, wife of an Army veteran, "but I was always unable to because of my schedule. It was a very rewarding experience and has me thinking about volunteering at a smaller local food bank."