Soldier Ride: Wounded Warriors Bike Across New York

Wounded soliders bike across New York as part of the annual Soldier Ride.

ByABC News
July 22, 2010, 3:03 PM

July 23, 2010 — -- It all started over beers at a Long Island bar: three friends were brainstorming ways to raise money and support for a local U.S. war veteran injured in Afghanistan.

Six years and millions of dollars raised later, their project, Soldier Ride, is now a national fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, a private veteran assistance program aiding severely wounded veterans.

The Soldier Ride project began one night in 2004 at the Stephen Talkhouse, a well-known bar and music venue in Amagansett, New York, and continues this weekend with the New York leg of a now-annual long distance bicycle ride spanning more than 70 miles between Manhattan and Long Island's East End.

Over the next three days, about 40 wounded soldiers from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will take part in the ride. Five wounded veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces will also be along for this ride. Whether on recumbent, hand-peddled or upright bikes, the soldiers kicked off the New York ride Thursday morning in Manhattan at Macy's Herald Square.

For some soldiers, this is their first time participating in Soldier Ride. But others are returning riders, like 29-year-old retired Marine Jimmy Klingel of Wooster, Ohio. This is Klingel's third Soldier Ride but his first time to ride in New York. His first ride was in 2009 in Chicago, and he just completed the 2010 Chicago ride in June.

"I love it because you get to meet all different people from all parts of the area, and different parts of the country," Klingel said. "Everyone has their own unique injury or story, if you want to put it like that."

As for Klingel's own story, he served in the Marines from June 2001 to August 2005. He was deployed twice in Iraq with the lead element in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. While in Iraq, he was wounded during two separate incidents.