By Gavin Menu
Soldier Ride began 12 years ago with a lone biker from East Hampton traveling from New York to California to raise money for wounded veterans returning from war. The event will come through Sag Harbor this Saturday with approximately 500 riders and more than 50 wounded veterans, many of whom are the direct beneficiaries of the Wounded Warrior Project, the main charity supported by Soldier Rides across the world.
Two separate rides of 30 and 60 miles will take place on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. at Ocean View Farm on Montauk Highway, just east of Amagansett Main Street.
After the idea for Soldier Ride sprouted at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett back in 2004, East Hampton resident Chris Carney rode more than 5,000 miles from coastline to coastline to raise awareness about the growing need for services for veterans returning from military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Originally we though this would be a one-time thing, and we would pat ourselves on the back and walk off into the sunset,” said Nick Kraus, who helped organize the first Solider Ride along with Carney and Peter Honerkamp, who owns the Talkhouse. “Over 1,700 wounded warriors were served in 2016 alone and countries across the world have started Solider Rides of their own. It’s really grown into a worldwide thing.”
The weekend will kick off locally with a screening of “Welcome to Solider Ride” in Amagansett Square on Friday, July 15. “It’s free for anyone who wants to learn how East Hampton Town has launched a new way of treating veterans,” Kraus said.
Soldier Ride has been welcomed at the White House since 2008 when President George W. Bush called it “the most inspiring athletic event in the country,” and most recently in April 2015 by President Barack Obama. According to a release, the Wounded Warrior Project supports injured veterans to maximize their rehabilitation and help them live active and healthy lives.
For more information on Soldier Ride visit soldierride.org.