Pedal power is being used to raise awareness on the Central Coast of health related issues confronting veterans and first responders including post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
The eleventh annual Project Hero United Healthcare California Coastal Challenge is cycling its way down the Central Coast.
About 40 veterans and first responders are participating in the annual cycling event that began earlier this week in Santa Cruz and will end this weekend in Ventura.
“It’s an important event because it gives our veterans and first responders a chance to create community and heal and achieve the hope and recovery and resilience which is the mission for Project Hero”, said organizer Peter Bylsma with Project Hero as the cyclists rode into Old Town Orcutt on Thursday for a brief stopover.
“It gives them something to look forward to”, said Orcutt reception organizer Linda Crabtree with the Women’s Auxiliary Post 534, “we try to get all the people in the streets to raise the flag and support them and let them know that we care.”
“It’s made a huge difference for me, for others too, but it’s made a huge difference for me”, said Army veteran Ken Inscoe who is riding in this year’s Project Hero United Healthcare California Coastal Challenge, “I was struggling for awhile personally, it allowed me to get re-focused and feel better about myself and for people there to help me when I needed help and I’m also there for other people when they need help.”
Over the eleven years of the cycling event, organizers say Project Hero has helped more than 10,000 veterans and first responders lead more productive and healthier lives.
“It gets us back with our brothers and sisters that we miss and gets us on a bike to exercise which is incredible”, said event participant and cyclist Dennis Connors, “pushing yourself, challenging yourself, and having your brothers and sisters with you to fight through it, gives you strength to fight through other hard times.”
The Project Hero United Healthcare California Coastal Challenge cyclists will spend the night in Solvang Thursday, then continue on their coastal trek with a stop in Santa Barbara on Friday and ending their journey in Ventura this weekend.
For more information about Project Hero United Healthcare California Coastal Challenge visit https://projecthero.org/events/challenges.