Injured Veterans To Cycle From Atlanta To New Orleans For 2015 Ride 2 Recovery Gulf Coast Challenge

NEW ORLEANS— More than 200 injured veterans and their supporters set off on Sunday, March 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. on the 2015 Ride 2 Recovery Gulf Coast Challenge sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, a six-day, 470-mile bicycle ride from Atlanta to New Orleans.

         Georgia Lieutenant Gov. Casey Cagle welcomed the veterans to the Georgia State Capital where the riders departed on their first leg of the Challenge from Atlanta to Columbus, GA.

         After their first stop in Columbus, the veterans will ride along the Gulf Coast with overnight stops in Montgomery, AL, Pensacola, FL, Mobile, AL, and Gulfport, MS, and finish in New Orleans on Friday, March 6.

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         On Saturday, March 7, veterans and UnitedHealthcare employees will participate in a special community service event at New Orleans City Park. Volunteers will work to restore the nationally recognized park that suffered substantial damage 10 years ago during Hurricane Katrina.

         The public is encouraged to gather along the daily routes or at the hotels to support the cyclists.

         Ride 2 Recovery supports physical and psychological rehabilitation programs for injured veterans, featuring cycling as the core activity. From indoor spinning training at military installations to multiday, long-distance rides, Ride 2 Recovery helps injured veterans heal through the challenge of cycling long distances using hand cycles, recumbents, tandems and traditional road bikes.

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         “UnitedHealthcare-Gulf States, which serves nearly 1.3 million Gulf States residents through a health care network of more than 354 hospitals and 27,257 physicians in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, is honored to support this important health program for the men and women who have served our country,” Glen Golemi, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Gulf States Region, said. “Programs such as The Ride 2 Recovery Gulf Coast Challenge help provide exercise and rehabilitation services that are critically important to helping injured veterans enjoy a return to the health and well-being they richly deserve. We look forward to riding beside them and embarking on this challenge.”

         This is the fifth year that UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, is serving as a Ride 2 Recovery’s presenting sponsor, providing financial, in-kind and volunteer support to assist in the rehabilitation of America’s injured veterans. UnitedHealthcare is the 2015 presenting sponsor of the six Ride 2 Recovery cycling challenges scheduled across the United States and in Germany.

         Ride 2 Recovery is one of many ways UnitedHealth Group supports veterans and their families. In 2012, UnitedHealth Group joined the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a coalition of major U.S. corporations that share the goal of hiring 100,000 transitioning service members and military veterans by 2020. UnitedHealth Group partners with a variety of organizations to help source military and veteran candidates such as the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, RecruitMilitary and the Wounded Warrior Project.

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         “The UnitedHealthcare Challenge series offers our healing heroes involved in the Project HERO program a way to get back in the game of life,” John Wordin, president and founder of Ride 2 Recovery, said. “We have established 70 Project HERO program locations on military installations and at VA’s. Participants are evaluated and coached by the Ride 2 Recovery staff to rebuild strength and conditioning, while also healing the effects of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) traumatic brain injuries and depression. Cycling is a powerful therapeutic exercise they can do alone or in groups for the rest of their lives.”

         Ride 2 Recovery is a 501(c) 3 whose mission is to provide a unique mental and physical rehabilitation and recovery program for veterans. The Warriors are able to adapt, improvise, and overcome the issues they face. Their participation provides hope, renewed life and a sense of brotherhood.  R2R provides this impactful and life-changing experience through cycling that has proven to improve the health and wellness of our healing heroes.

         The program is highly successful because:  

         • Participation in the Ride 2 Recovery Program helps speed up the recovery and rehabilitation process for our nation’s Healing Heroes.

         • R2R designs and builds custom-adapted bicycles, trikes, and hand cycles for any injury.

         • Cycling is an activity in which almost all patients with physical and psychological disabilities can participate.

         The programs provided by Ride2Recovery are supported by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations as a 501(c)3.

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