CLARKSVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
The challenge was for wounded warriors to tackle a six-day, 365-mile ride through the country. Friday, that challenge was completed as 150 cyclists with Ride 2 Recovery came into Nashville from Clarksville.
"Being around all the guys, it feels like you're back in your unit," said Lt. Col. Juan Carlos Hernandez. "It feels like you belong. It gives you a better outlook on life."
Friday morning, gray skies hung over Clarksville, but the weather did nothing to stop the sounds of air pumps and cycle tuning.
"The accomplishment of this challenge gives them a sense of self-worth," said Lt. Col. David Haines. "It's a confidence that they can take on other challenges in their life."
A nonprofit program focused on rehabilitating wounded veterans and first-responders, Ride 2 Recovery led the cyclists on the ride. Everywhere in the crowd was another story from the war.
"I was on a unmounted patrol one day, and I was hit by a roadside bomb," said Haines. "I had four other people with me. One person was killed. I received a lot of shrapnel to my left hand, my left arm, and my left leg. I went through about three years of rehabilitation with surgeries and occupational therapy."
"We got hit by an RPG, a rocket propelled grenade," said Hernandez. "The shrapnel basically took a lot of my foot, my ankle, and everything and just basically destroyed it. They couldn't do anything to save the leg."
"Too many people fall into this narrative of wounded veterans as victims," Haines continued. "These are guys who are putting in a hard effort to show, in spite of their wounds and injuries, they can continue with their life. They can be better, be stronger, and be happier than they were before they were injured."
Starting in Cincinnati, the cyclists took off Sunday, riding about 60 miles a day. Their trip from Clarksville to Nashville completed the Bluegrass Challenge.
"Being with the guys is very uplifting spiritually," said Hernandez. "It just gets you back. I'm still a soldier. I can still do what I did before. I'm not going to let my injuries limit me to what I can and can't do."
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