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Injured veterans bicycle the road to recovery together

Monday - 5/28/2012, 7:57pm  ET

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Retired Army Staff Sgt. Nathan Hunt, 31, before taking off on the Memorial Challenge. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

ARLINGTON, Va. - On Memorial Day, more than 300 bicycle riders and hand crank cyclists left on a rehabilitative ride.

The cycling event, Memorial Challenge, is a part of an alternative therapy program for wounded warriors who have suffered physical or mental disabilities.

The group will ride from Arlington to Virginia Beach over five days - trekking 325 miles, says Debora Spano, with Ride 2 Recovery, which sponsors the Memorial Challenge.

It was the fourth year Army Staff Sgt. Nathan Hunt, a 31-year-old from Texas, participated. He says his first year was the hardest.

In Iraq, Hunt was injured twice in 28 days and lost his legs.

"It's a way to help give newer guys that come out and ride with us new hope that there are things to live for," he says about the ride.

Army Lieutenant Col. Daniel Dudek is another injured veteran. He lost the use of his legs after an IED explosion in Iraq in 2007. Stationed at Fort Belvoir working with the Warrior Transition Command, Dudek took part in the event on a hand cycle.

"This is an amazing group of people from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and veterans," he says.

Not only are there hundreds of participants, but also a large amount of volunteers and contributors who take part, Dudek says.

According the event's website, cycling helps in rehabilitation because it's an activity in which nearly all who have suffered physical or mental disabilities can take part, and in doing so, can help speed their recovery.

John Wordin founded the ride as an alternative therapy program. He says the VA asked if he could help.

When asked how he feels on a personal level, Wordin says, "To have the knowledge and experience that can help change people's lives dramatically as this does, there are no words to describe that feeling."

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)