Ride 2 Recovery Gulf Coast Challenge
Windy conditions along Highway 90 couldn’t stop hundreds of veterans from biking into Gulfport today on the Ride 2 Recovery Gulf Coast Challenge. As News 25’s Shelby Myers reports, Over a hundred injured veterans and their supporters are braving the weather to complete their journey from Georgia to New Orleans. They are all hoping for one outcome: healing.
For former Gulfport resident Sergeant Velette Webb, so far the six day Ride 2 Recovery Gulf Coast Challenge from Georgia to New Orleans hasn’t been an easy one. “It’s hard, it’s hard. My arms hurt real bad.”
Unlike some of the other veterans and supporters biking across the Gulf Coast, Sgt. Webb doesn’t pedal a typical bike. She rides in a specially equipped hand cycle to accommodate her new life as a paraplegic. Webb was injured during a life-threatening crash. She rode in the challenge last year on a normal bike. This year, she gets a little push from her friend Joe Coddington. “He was pushing me the whole way so I really didn’t have to work very hard,” said Webb. Coddington said, “We came up with a push bar. She’s being modest. She pedaled every mile.”
Webb, Coddington and over a hundred of other injured veterans put their bodies through this bicycle challenge for one reason and that’s healing. It’s the same reason 2009 Fort Hood shooting victim Patrick Zeigler takes pride in even being alive to compete in the challenge after he was paralyzed on his left side and lost 20 percent of his brain. “We all have some kind of problem but we’re out here doing it, just to prove we can. At the end of the day, you’re so tired. You just rode 90 miles on your bike or whatever but while you’re doing it you feel like ‘wow, this is amazing. You know I can’t believe my blood is pumping so hard.’ I’m breathing so hard but I’m like pushing it and trying to go faster and get to the next stop and it’s just really exhilarating.”
Riders were welcomed into Gulfport at Island View Casino and will leave tomorrow in hopes of finishing the bicycle challenge in New Orleans, a challenge restoring hope and purpose while also providing a way for veterans to help veterans.