Two Tuskegee Airmen are expected to join more than 200 injured veterans and their supporters for the conclusion of a seven-day, 450-mile bicycle ride that ends Saturday in Los Angeles.
Robert Friend, 94, plans to bike the last several miles of UnitedHealthcare Ride 2 Recovery, an event that kicked off last Sunday in Palo Alto. Participants cycled along the coast, stopping in cities along the way. They are now headed for the finish line at the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center, where they will be greeted by veteran Walter Crenshaw, 104.
Ride 2 Recovery is a nonprofit that encourages injured veterans to heal physically and psychologically through cycling. Participants, made up of men and women from age 20 to their late 60s, are referred to the program and are able to take part in events across the country for free. Their injuries include amputations, brain trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Cycling is very healing for your mind,” nonprofit spokeswoman Debora Spano said. “Our program gives our injured veterans a chance to heal in a very safe environment. It puts them back in a unit which they’ve left, so this gives them that feeling of belonging with people that totally understand them and can help.”
U.S. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) also joined the last leg of the ride.