CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 6, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Eleven bicyclists, including hand cyclists and military veterans, will ride cross-country to raise awareness and funds for three programs that support the disabled -- the Adaptive Sports & Adventures Program at Carolinas Rehabilitation, part of Carolinas HealthCare System, the Semper Fi Fund and the Independence Fund.
Riders will begin their journey near Camp Pendleton in California on April 10, link up with Carolinas Rehabilitation's annual Cycle to the Sea fundraiser to Myrtle Beach, SC, on April 21, and finish at Camp Lejeune on April 24. Riders will cycle in rotating teams of two and plan only one overnight stop, in Texas, to resupply, perform bike maintenance, and get a wellness check-up.
At communities along the way, identified by the Cycle Event Map, the riders will spread their message of hope for those who've become disabled due to accidents or military service. A special welcome ceremony in Charlotte on April 19 will feature speakers from all three featured organizations. The Charlotte ceremony also will bring attention to the U.S. Olympic Committee's paralympic trials that will be held there in June.
"For each member of our team, this is a bucket-list item, to cycle across the country, but it's definitely bigger than that," said Aaron Harper, event co-director, medically retired Marine Corps sergeant, and Carolinas HealthCare System employee. "We know, as differently abled athletes, that what we're about to do has never been done before. Using the caregiver-wounded military member model, the teams will physically, emotionally and mentally push each other to the finish line."
Added Robbie Parks, a hand cycle enthusiast paralyzed in an auto accident, "I had to learn how to live again and along the way I have tried my best to show others that life is not over after injury as long as you keep trying. I'm not riding for myself, I'm riding for anyone who has challenges."
The three organizations benefiting from the ride's fundraising efforts have all provided crucial support to the disabled. The Adaptive Sports & Adventures Program at Carolinas Rehabilitation provides competitive and recreational adaptive sports opportunities for individuals with physical disabilities, including cycling, water and snow skiing, rugby and soccer. The Semper Fi Fund provides financial assistance and lifetime support to post 9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. The Independence Fund supports injured and wounded veterans with the tools needed to achieve mobility and enjoy the freedoms they fought to preserve.
Presenting sponsor of the event is Carolinas HealthCare System, with American Airlines named the "Official Airline." In-kind support and cyclist sponsorships are being provided by AARP of North Carolina, Patriot Military Family Foundation, Independence Fund and Semper Fi Fund. Additional cyclist sponsors include Northwestern Mutual Life, GID Solutions, Preasha LLC, Duke Energy Corporation, Resolute Adaptive and General & Mrs. James F. Amos.
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SOURCE Carolinas HealthCare System