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Aug. 23, 2013

Spartans support 'healing heroes' cycling to recovery

After a long day of cycling, about 200 injured service men and women en route to Detroit from Chicago, as part of the United HealthCare Ride 2 Recovery Great Lakes Challenge, will rest their legs and fill their bellies at Michigan State University on Tuesday.

MSU’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center will provide 100 rooms and complimentary dinner to cyclists enduring the 375-mile six-day trip. Part of the group will be staying at Lansing’s Radisson Hotel.

“This is a great program, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to honor those who have sacrificed so much for all of us,” said Kent Cassella, MSU assistant vice president for media communications. “As a ‘military friendly’ school, we’re always looking for ways to better support those who served so selflessly. Thank you to these brave men and women and their supporters.”

MSU will be the only university stop along the way. Cyclists will start their journey with a ceremony at Soldier Field – home of the Chicago Bears – and ride west through Michigan with overnight stops in Michigan City, South Haven, Grand Rapids, East Lansing and Novi. The ride will conclude in Detroit on Thursday.

Among the riders will be MSU senior Logan Stark, a former Marine sniper whose newly released documentary, “For the 25,” has earned national acclaim. His film is dedicated to 25 fallen comrades of the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, which suffered the most casualties in 2010 during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Stark plans to make another documentary using footage from the Ride 2 Recovery event.

Cyclists will arrive on campus around 3 p.m. Tuesday, coming into East Lansing via Michigan Avenue from the west. The public is encouraged to welcome the cyclists, and may stand along Harrison Road.

They will depart from Kellogg Center at 9 a.m. Wednesday, heading south on Harrison Road toward the Spartan Statue. Members of the public are encouraged to gather around 9 a.m. to cheer on the riders. Recommended viewing spots are: Spartan Statue, on the corner of Red Cedar Road and Kalamazoo Street; the south end of Spartan Stadium, Lot 79, off West Shaw Lane; and along Farm Lane, between North Shaw Lane and Grand River Avenue.

Timing for the Ride 2 Recovery stop in East Lansing couldn’t be more appropriate, Cassella said. It comes on the heels of the “One Book, One Community” program, the theme of which is Kevin Powers’ book “The Yellow Birds.” The book tells a fictional story of war by capturing the harsh reality and aftermath of combat, as well as raising complex questions about returning home.

Ride 2 Recovery supports physical and psychological rehabilitation programs for injured veterans and active-duty service members through cycling. From indoor spinning training at military installations to multiday, long-distance rides, cyclists use hand cycles, tandems and traditional road bikes.

“The UnitedHealthcare Challenge Series offers our healing heroes involved in the Project HERO program a way to get back into the game of life,” said John Wordin, president and founder of Ride 2 Recovery. “Participants are evaluated and coached by the R2R staff to rebuild strength and conditioning, while concurrently healing the effects of post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries and depression. Cycling is a powerful therapeutic exercise that they can do alone or in groups for the rest of their lives.”

Media note: Media may take photos anywhere along the campus route and may conduct interviews during the stop at Spartan Stadium, Lot 79. Interviews must be coordinated through Debora Spano, director of media relations for Ride 2 Recovery. To make arrangements to speak with a cyclist beforehand, call Spano at (401) 258-3081.

By: Kristen Parker