WASHINGTON, April 13, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly 30 wounded warriors visited the White House today for the annual Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Soldier Ride®, where they were cheered on and hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff. The warriors and caregivers were welcomed by members of the Biden-Harris Administration and First Lady Jill Biden's Joining Forces initiative. The Vice President and Second Gentleman delivered remarks honoring their sacrifices.
Soldier Ride participants began visiting the White House in 2008. Soldier Ride is a nationally recognized adaptive cycling program that helps warriors build their confidence and strength through shared physical activities and bonds of service in a supportive environment.
As the Vice President told the wounded warriors, "The service that you have given to our nation — fighting as all of you have, with the best fighting forces in the world, to support and defend all that we as Americans hold dear — is some of the most noble work that any human being could ever do. … You all represent the best of what we do. You inspire Americans, and you inspire people around the world. And today, you continue being a source of inspiration with this ride."
U.S. Army veteran Mark Lalli shared his story of enduring a helicopter crash in Italy that left only five survivors of the 11 service members on board. Mark sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and over two dozen broken bones. Despite his injuries, short-term memory loss, and paralysis, Mark embodies the resilience so many wounded veterans display.
"I stand here today, full of pride," Mark shared at the White House event. "I had the privilege to serve our country in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Blackhawk helicopter crew chief. And while my time in Iraq impacted my life, it was actually a helicopter mission in Italy that changed my life. Our aircraft hit the ground with such force that no one on board should have survived. After a month in a coma, I spent 20 months in rehab, relearning everything. While there, Wounded Warrior Project delivered a backpack full of comfort items and promised they would always be there for my family and me."
Since 2004, Soldier Ride has empowered warriors like Mark Lalli to become active in cycling and build confidence as they strive toward their health and wellness goals. Approximately 14,000 warriors and their family support members have participated in more than 650 events. Soldier Ride inspires warriors to connect with each other and their communities, with citizens cheering them along the rides and honoring their service and sacrifice.
"We are grateful to the Biden-Harris Administration for providing these warriors with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and joining us in our mission to honor their service," said WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington. "For 20 years, Wounded Warrior Project has been committed to honoring and empowering wounded warriors, their families, and caregivers. Through our no-cost programs and services like Soldier Ride and the generosity of the American people, we are helping change and save lives. We thank the vice president, second gentleman, and public for supporting our mission and these inspiring warriors."
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.
About Soldier Ride
Soldier Ride® began in 2004 when civilian Chris Carney cycled more than 5,000 miles coast-to-coast to support Wounded Warrior Project and help raise awareness for injured veterans. Today, Soldier Ride continues to inspire warriors to heal their bodies and minds. Soldier Ride has become a gathering that connects American heroes to each other and their communities and provides the American public an opportunity to honor that service and sacrifice. Read more.
SOURCE Wounded Warrior Project