Adam Sandoval has done a lot of motorcycle riding over the past few years. His 18-month journey broke numerous records as he stopped to visit every Harley-Davidson® dealership in the continental United States with his chihuahua, Scooter. Yet, this most recent ride stood out for Adam as maybe the most important.
“Giving away motorcycles to deserving warriors may be the most impactful thing I ever do in my life. It’s very humbling to be able to do that and give back.”
Adam has been a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) supporter for years, participating in fundraisers, meet-and-greets, and other events to provide awareness and funding for the warriors WWP serves. His latest effort was called MISSION: “THANK YOU” – a collaborative project that brought together WWP, Harley-Davidson, and Adam’s crew to honor those who served and are serving to protect the nation.
“Harley-Davidson reached out me and asked me to ride for them,” Adam said. “We knew we wanted to do something special for America’s veterans, and we came up with the idea to give away eight new 2018 bikes to those who we felt deserved it.”
Harley-Davidson’s history is intertwined with military tradition, starting in World War II with soldiers riding their motorcycles.
“Harley-Davidson wanted to recognize that a large portion of their base has a military background,” Adam said. “Honoring those people who enjoy these roads every day seemed only natural, and I know they were excited to do something special for our service members.”
It began in San Diego; as Adam rode his motorcycle up onto the stage where the first event kicked off, Harley-Davidson staff and a warrior served by WWP were waiting for him.
“I had a lot of anticipation – I knew we were going to give away motorcycles to warriors, but for me personally, it was a big step,” Adam said.
As Adam spoke about the 2018 Harley-Davidson behind him, the wounded warrior next to him had no idea what was about to happen. Then Adam lifted the keys high and turned to the warrior. The bike was his.
“He was stunned,” Adam said. “The warrior hesitated at first, like he didn’t believe it. He was emotional, and I think a lot of people watching it were too. It was an incredible moment, and I knew we had started something special there.”
The experience was re-created numerous times as Adam continued east. Along the way between locations where he gave away a new motorcycle, Adam stopped at local Harley-Davidson dealerships to meet with fans, talk with motorcycle enthusiasts, and raise awareness for the needs of a generation of wounded veterans served by WWP.
“During my ride, I shared the road with lots of veterans,” Adam said. “The thing I see time and time again is the difference the motorcycle culture has made for veterans.”
The positive impact that motorcycle riding has on veterans goes beyond the community and camaraderie on the open road.
“Being on the road requires your total focus, and that presence of mind is freeing in many ways,” Adam said. “The atmosphere around you, the wind blowing on your face, and the concentration of the ride pull you into that moment on the bike. The stuff that’s dragging you down just disappears.”
Adam’s MISSION: “THANK YOU” tour took him to the Sturgis bike festival; Milwaukee, where Harley-Davidson is headquartered; and finally New York City for the Veterans Day Parade. The sights and sounds of thousands of veterans marching and civilians cheering was something Adam couldn’t put into words.
“You can’t describe what you feel when you see veterans from all of the wars America has fought in, being celebrated by first responders, civilians, and even other veterans,” Adam said. “As we rode with Wounded Warrior Project warriors and staff, it really made me think of how much goes into protecting our freedom every day.”
It was a humbling experience – but it was something Adam had witnessed at every bike giveaway, including his last one in New York.
“The humility of the warriors and the supporters of Wounded Warrior Project was amazing,” Adam said. “The warriors who received the bikes all said they felt someone else should have received them, or that someone else was more deserving than they were. But there is no small sacrifice. Everyone who signed on the line to serve our country has made sacrifices, and I really believe every single warrior deserved it. I wish I could’ve given away more.”
For Adam, the idea of sacrifice and service hits close to home. He never served in the military, and it’s a decision that still follows him wherever he rides.
“I made a lot of poor choices in my younger years,” Adam said. “Later in life, I realized what I had been distracted from. I had friends coming home; other friends didn’t come home at all. I really felt like I missed an opportunity to give back and be constructive. I realized I was in the majority who didn’t serve. It’s why I truly believe that if you didn’t serve, you should find time to serve those who did. It’s our job to honor and give back to those who served our country, and if every American who didn’t serve took the time to help those who did, our veterans wouldn’t lack for anything.”
Adam doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. He continues to ride and raise awareness for WWP and the work it does to connect wounded veterans with programs and services that empower them to live their lives on their terms.
“I ride for the joy of it, but I want to do what I can to help an organization I believe in,” Adam said. “With my time and energy, I want to make sure my efforts are put to the best use. Having the right people in place is so important to making a difference in the lives of America’s veterans. It’s about helping as many veterans as you can. And I think Wounded Warrior Project has the right formula that will multiply my efforts and the efforts of other supporters as well.”
While years spent riding across America’s landscape brought countless surprises and highlights, Adam believes what caught him off guard the most was those who rode alongside him – and how Adam fit into their world.
“I’ve spent a lot of time around veterans,” Adam said. “I’ve spent weeks on end side by side with warriors on the road, but I never expected the veteran community to accept me. This all started from a place of regret and wanting to do more. I was welcomed with open arms, and I’ve got new brothers and sisters that I have a bond with now, for life. It’s an incredible feeling.”
To keep up with Adam’s adventures on the open road, check out his Facebook and YouTube pages. And to see how Adam and supporters like him fuel WWP’s programs and services that connect, serve, and empower wounded warriors, visit our newsroom.
Contact: Mattison Brooks – Public Relations
About Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connects, serves, and empowers wounded warriors. Read more here.