NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - More than 150 injured veterans, first responders and their supporters will be cycling from Tallahassee, Florida to New Orleans in an effort to raise awareness to families in need.
The veterans are participating in the 10th annual UnitedHealthcare Gulf Coast Challenge, a noncompetitive bicycle tour March 5-10.
The cyclists will cover more than 450 miles with overnight stops in Panama City and Walton Beach, Fla., Orange Beach and Mobile, Ala., and Gulfport, Miss, according to the news release.
In addition to the physical and psychological benefits of the ride and cycling in general, the 2018 UnitedHealthcare Gulf Coast Challenge also helps raise awareness about America's heroes' needs while honoring their courage both in defending the nation and learning how to address the challenges of daily life upon their return home.
"We're grateful for the opportunity to support Project Hero and its work on behalf of the men and women who have sacrificed so much in the service of our country," said Joseph Ochipinti, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of the Gulf States. "UnitedHealthcare employees and volunteers are eager to support and cheer participants along the 450-mile route."
Traveling by historic sites, civic centers and local attractions, the cyclists ride hand cycles, recumbent cycles, custom tandems and traditional road bikes. The public is invited and encouraged to gather along the ride routes, at lunch stops and hotels to support the cyclists, according to the report.
"The Challenge Series combines cycling comradery and peer-to-peer interaction to help veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injury meet challenges, achieve goals and build lasting relationships," said John Wordin, president and founder of Project Hero. "The multiple-day format gives healing heroes a unique opportunity for a life-changing experience that supports mental and physical rehabilitation and recovery."
A former professional cyclist, Wordin rides in every Project Hero Challenge Series.
Daily routes, stops and events as well as registration information for single- or multiple-day public riders can be found at ProjectHero.org.
About Project Hero
Founded in 2008, Project Hero is a groundbreaking national non-profit organization dedicated to helping Veterans and First Responders affected by PTSD, TBI and injury achieve rehabilitation, recovery and resilience in their daily lives and increasing awareness of the national mental health crisis posed by PTSD and TBI. Project Hero programs produce positive outcomes at lower costs and reduce drug-based therapies. Project Hero builds and provides adaptive bikes to physically-challenged and injured Veterans and First Responders and has helped tens of thousands of our Healing Heroes at no cost to participants through cycling events, community-based programs in more than 50 cities throughout the US and by supporting research. For information, visit www.projecthero.org.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.