Over 150 vets, first responders bicycle through FWB
Northwest Florida Daily News
March 7, 2018
The rides are part of the work done by Project Hero, a national nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder, supports community-based rehabilitation and recovery programs and stages Ride 2 Recovery events like the United Healthcare Gulf Coast Challenge.
OKALOOSA ISLAND — More than 150 veterans and first responders, along with supporters, rode their bicycles through Fort Walton Beach on Wednesday in the United Healthcare Gulf Coast Challenge.
The ride began Monday in Tallahassee and will cover 450 miles before it ends Saturday in New Orleans. Along the way, participating veterans and first responders will exercise their muscles and also find opportunities to exorcise any unseen wounds to their spirits and psyches.
“I ride to run away from the memories,” said Leo Santamaria, a Vietnam veteran participating in his 11th Challenge ride. Santamaria was among the riders who started out Wednesday morning from the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort on Okaloosa Island for the day’s ride to Pensacola.
Santamaria said his service in Veitnam left him with a number of personal problems.
“I don’t like to remember those,” he said.
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