As he slips into the seat of his new custom-made cycle near the starting line, without pedaling one foot of the El Tour de Tucson bike race, Miguel* has already gone a long way. In fact, riding with a bunch of his buddies from the El Paso VA, Miguel, and their recreation therapist, Corinne, have already gone a long way together.
“Training for, planning for, and participating in this race has truly created a life-changing impact on these veterans,” explains Corinne. “Cycling has given this group the framework to build a healthy lifestyle for both mind and body.”
It all began back at the VA in fall 2015, when El Paso hosted its’ first adaptive cycling clinic with help from Adaptive Adventures. From there, Corinne started working with the group – carefully and diligently moving toward their end goal of competing in the race. “This takes a mountain of preparation, fortitude, and focus,” says Corinne. “Training becomes a positive new way to look at and participate in life.”
Miguel agrees. It’s been quite a while since his days in the Marine Corps serving our country; but when serious ankle injuries came along, he hit a stumbling block.
That changed when Miguel got involved in the VA’s recreation therapy program. The VA program provides opportunities to participate in sports, music and the arts to speed recuperation and support the recovery process. However, funding for rec therapy programs can be difficult. That’s where BVL comes in. Since 1942, BVL has kept our promise to stand up for our nation’s heroes by providing programs and services to help brighten the days of America’s veterans when they need it the most.
“Thanks to the grant from BVL, we were able to purchase custom made shirts for the group and cover the registration fees as well as help with lodging and food,” notes Corinne. “Without this grant, we’d be nowhere.”
As Jeff settles into the seat of his cycle, he smooths out his racing shirt — with the BVL logo — worn by the team from the El Paso VA and reflects. But this is just the beginning…The chance to take up cycling, and ride in this iconic race, has given him the motivation to aspire to even greater goals.
You go, Miguel. We at BVL are behind you!