Wounded soldiers ride to recovery

May 14, 2008 5:36:53 PM PDT
Fitness Challenge Foundation has started the Road 2 Recovery program that provides the opportunity to raise much needed funds and the public's awareness of the challenges of Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans in regard to physical and mental issues.

Staff Sergeant David Gardner is one of more than a dozen wounded soldiers who are training for what they call the bike ride of a lifetime.

He is taking part in the Road 2 Recovery ride from Washington DC to the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speed Way.

Gardner the 82nd Airborne soldier lost part of his right leg when a small tracked vehicle ran over it in Iraq.

The left track grabbed my right foot and just sucked me right up underneath. Crushed both legs and then as soon as they started putting the sprints and tourniquets on my legs we started take sniper fire," Gardner said.

He said more than 35 minutes past before he was evacuated. Eventually, the paratrooper ended up at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. So did his wife, Beverly. She was having their third child.

"So when she first saw me, she was nine months pregnant and then we had the two boys with us too. So she had her hands full," Gardner said.

The couple and their children met the President at the hospital and spent months in physical training before returning to North Carolina.

Hawley's Bicycle World has been very supportive of the ride. They donated parts and labor to help fix up some of the bikes. And the wounded soldiers come here for spin cycle for training."

"We've seen actually a lot of positive impact. They've lost weight. They feel more confidence," Jen Dolye with Hawley's Bicycle World said. Some of our soldiers couldn't ride for an hour and now they're riding for an hour."

"It was a slow process. It took me 16 minutes to do my first mile. Now I can do 10 miles in 30 minutes," said Ski Donarski, a wounded warrior.

The wounded warriors will ride the last 60 mile leg of the race and take a victory lap around the track in Charlotte.

If you would like to make a donation or see how you can help, visit Road 2 Recovery's web site at www.road2recovery.us.com


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