Patriots cycle cross-country to support veterans - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Patriots cycle cross-country to support veterans

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7 cyclists travel in honor of America's vets. (Source: Ride Across USA) 7 cyclists travel in honor of America's vets. (Source: Ride Across USA)
FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) -  Seven cyclists are riding for hope, traveling cross-country in honor of the veterans who push themselves beyond all limits to protect and defend our freedoms.

Ride Across USA is on the home stretch of their journey, which is taking them through parts of the Tennessee Valley.

With less than 1,000 miles left to ride Thursday, the group is motivated more than ever to finish their mission. With Independence Day hours away, the riders are an amazing example of what it means to have pride for our country and all those who have served.

“Military is in my blood, so I thought that was a great cause,” said organizer Tracy Draper. “I learned a statistic in the Washington Post that said in 2012, an average of 22 service members a day kill themselves because of PTSD or whatever problems come out of their serving. That is just devastating, and I thought we have to help them.

Draper’s desire to help is shared amongst each team member. The group is traveling 3,000 miles, from sea to shining sea, riding for hope.

“I never got to see the country like I have seen it on this ride,” said Army veteran Bill Bellew. “It’s real special. So many small towns; we’ve met so many people – it’s just been amazing.”

The cause holds an even deeper meaning to Bellew and Navy Vietnam veteran Clay Smith. Each understands the sacrifices made by our troops.

The Hope for Warriors organization focuses on restoring lives for our warriors and their families in post-9/11 wars.

“Sort of like Vietnam veterans, I think they’re almost like the forgotten warriors,” said Smith. “There’s a lot of mixed feelings in America, and sometimes the soldiers get left behind.”

“These are our veterans, these are the ones who after 9/11, volunteered to go fight for our freedom,” Draper added. “It’s emotional because it’s July 4, because we’ve ridden how many miles… It touches our heart. We are Americans, we are patriots, and these are the people who deserve it the most.”

Learn more about Ride Across USA at their website and Facebook page.

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