BSG honors wounded veterans
by Allison Haver
Riders in the Blood, Sweat and Gears event gathered at the Valle Crucis Elementary School gymnasium on Friday to pick up their race packets and honor wounded veterans.
This year, the BSG hosted 20 Ride2Recovery athletes, wounded vets in the process of rehabilitating both physically and mentally.
R2R's mission is "to improve the health and wellness of injured veterans by providing a life changing experience that can impact their lives forever."
Produced by the Fitness Challenge, a nonprofit organization in partnership with the military and VA Volunteer Service Office to benefit mental and physical rehabilitation programs for wounded veterans, R2R helps raise money to support cycling programs at military and VA locations around the country to help the veterans overcome obstacles they face.
During the packet pick up, BSG president Scott Nelson, BSG board members, honorary starter Brenda Binning, BSG founder and ride director for 12 years Sonny Sweet and president of the local chapter of the Military Officers Association and longtime BSG volunteer George Brudzinski officially welcomed 15 of the organization's athletes who took part in the ride on Saturday.
"BSG has been so generous. They have completely opened their hearts to these vets," Kim Clarke, a BSG alumni from Hickory, said.
Clarke was involved with the R2R organization last year for the first time and knew that the two organizations needed to team up.
"It's a beautiful program. Ride2Recovery will customize bikes to whatever the veterans need," she said.
The 15 veterans, including three women, taking part in the ride came from across the U.S., and the Army, Marines and Air Force were some of the military branches represented.
"If we can give a little back to these veterans then that's all that matters to me," Brudzinski said.
The first Sonny Sweet Honorary Grant was presented to the Western Youth Network.
Sweet, along with Fred Martin, president of Mast General Store, and BSG board members, presented the grant to the local nonprofit.
"This is a great organization. They do a lot with a little in helping challenged youth," Nelson said. "We admire their work."