Editor’s note: This article has been changed to reflect the correct spelling of Kris Skinner’s name.
Cycling saved Army veteran Kris Skinner’s life.
After returning home from serving abroad and overcoming mental and physical obstacles, getting on the bicycle proved to be what he needed in rehabilitating his mind and body.
“It has been very therapeutic,” he said. “It has helped me find a strong support network that has helped me recover.”
Skinner’s network is part of the Ride 2 Recovery, an organization that helps improve the health and wellness of injured veterans through cycling.
Ride 2 Recovery is scheduled to host its fundraising and awareness gathering event Honor Ride at 8 a.m. Nov. 9 at Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South.
According to Phil Jones, the director of marketing of the West Coast Honor Ride, Ride 2 Recovery started in 2008 offering three components.
“We have a heroes training camp that gets injured veterans back on the bike,” Jones said.
Skinner found the organization through a friend during a low point of his recovery.
“I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping, and I was constantly in pain,” Skinner said.
He had done cycling before and decided to give the program a shot.
The organization has even assembled custom-made bicycles that meet the needs of veterans who have had amputations.
For people ready to take their recovery to the next level, there are also the Ride 2 Recovery challenges, which are multiday, long-distance rides.
The challenges push participants mentally and physically.
“These are 400- to 500-mile rides,” Jones said. “We just had one from Boston to Philadelphia.”
Skinner, who is now the challenge event coordinator for Ride 2 Recovery, has used the long-distance rides not only to aid in his recovery but also to allow him to connect with other veterans and hear their stories about overcoming obstacles.
“It’s pretty inspiring,” he said. “You’re side by side with the people who have similar injuries.”
The last part of the organization is the Honor Ride, which Jones said helps raise money and promote the program.
“It’s done in about 20 cities across the nation,” he said.
It attracts cyclists of various skill levels. Not every cyclist in the Honor Ride is a veteran.
Each ride varies in distance but can go up to 100 miles.
Last year’s Las Vegas Honor Ride had nearly 400 participants. Jones added that the organization hopes to raise $10,000 from the event. Starting at Mandalay Bay, there are two routes depending on skill level: a 39-mile route and a 75-mile route. People can enter as individuals or a team. The last day to register is Nov. 8.
Whether it is a cyclist who wants to participate or another veteran who is looking for a rehabilitative activity, Skinner hopes Honor Ride attracts many more people this year. Even though the event is designed for the entire public, he wants to reach out to veterans who might not know about the program but have been searching for something rehabilitative.
“We just hope other veterans realize we are out there,” he said.
Skinner never could have imagined that cycling would have been the key to overcoming many mental and physical obstacles.
“It proved to be an incredibly positive part of my life,” he said.
For more information, visit ride2recovery.com.
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5201.