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Navy veteran Nathan DeWalt, left, rode a hand cycle through San Francisco Oct. 15 along with fellow veterans as part of the UnitedHealthcare California Challenge bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. (Photo Credit: Amy Sullivan)
SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 15, 2017) — 

More than 100 military veterans, first responders and their supporters will ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles during the 2017 UnitedHealthcare California Challenge. The ride, in its tenth year, is a collaboration between UnitedHealthcare and Project Hero, benefiting veterans and first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other injuries.

The noncompetitive, therapeutic bike tour begins today and covers nearly 450 miles. The full 2017 UnitedHealthcare California Challenge schedule includes:

  • Sunday, Oct. 15 – San Francisco to Santa Cruz, 77 miles
  • Monday, Oct. 16 – Santa Cruz to Salinas, 42 miles
  • Tuesday, Oct. 17 – Salinas to Lake Nasciamento/San Simeon, 120 miles
  • Wednesday, Oct. 18 – San Simeon to Pismo Beach, 56 miles
  • Thursday, Oct. 19 – Pismo Beach to Solvang, 74 miles
  • Friday, Oct. 20 – Solvang to Ventura,72 miles
  • Saturday, Oct. 21 – Ventura to Los Angeles, 63 miles

Participating veterans ride for free in the multiday event, which takes them through historic sites, civic centers and local attractions while riding hand cycles, recumbent cycles, adaptive bikes and traditional road bikes. Information is available at www.projecthero.org.

“This cycling event raises awareness about PTSD and helps veterans like me recover from our injuries and heal,” said Carlos Vera of San Jose, Calif. “The comradery of riding with my fellow veterans, hearing their stories and knowing we have a strong network of support through organizations such as Project Hero and UnitedHealthcare are so important in our recovery process.”

Project Hero is a national nonprofit organization that helps military veterans and first responders affected by injury, PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI) achieve rehabilitation, recovery and resilience in their daily lives.

UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, has been a partner of Project Hero and its programs for veterans since 2010, providing funding and critical support for its therapy rides across the United States. Through Optum, which operates the company’s military health services business, the company is supporting Project Hero’s efforts to help veterans and first responders affected by PTSD and TBI as part of a multimillion-dollar commitment to help expand national HUB community sites, Project Hero Honor Ride events, the Women’s Initiative and Mountain Biking programs.

“UnitedHealthcare is honored to support Project Hero and this year’s California Challenge,” said Robert Falkenberg, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of California. “There is nothing like the therapeutic power of cycling, and we are privileged to ride alongside and support men and women who have served our country.”

In addition to five 2017 United Healthcare Challenge Series rides held over multiple days throughout the country, Project Hero hosts annual one-day Honor Rides inviting the public to ride with healing heroes in cities throughout the nation.

Founded in 2008, Project Hero has built more than 200 adaptive bikes for injured veteran riders and donated more than 2,500 bikes to military veteran riders who have logged more than 700,000 miles already this year in support of America’s healing heroes.

“The Challenge Series combines cycling, comradery and peer-to-peer interaction to help veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries meet challenges, achieve goals and build lasting relationships,” said John Wordin, president and founder of Project Hero. “The multiple-day format gives healing heroes a unique opportunity for a life-changing experience that supports mental and physical rehabilitation and recovery.”

Wordin, a former professional cyclist, rides in every Project Hero Challenge Series event.

Project Hero also oversees community centers and programs in more than 50 cities throughout the United States and works in partnership on PTSD research programs with the Veterans Administration and leading research institutions, including Georgetown University Hospital.

About Project Hero

Founded in 2008, Project Hero is a groundbreaking national non-profit organization dedicated to helping Veterans and First Responders affected by PTSD, TBI and injury achieve rehabilitation, recovery and resilience in their daily lives and increasing awareness of the national mental health crisis posed by PTSD and TBI. Project Hero programs work by producing positive outcomes at lower costs and reducing drug-based therapies. Project Hero builds and provides adaptive bikes to physically-challenged and injured Veterans and First Responders and has helped tens of thousands of Healing Heroes at no cost to participants through cycling events, community-based programs in more than 50 cities throughout the US and by supporting research. For information, visit www.projecthero.org.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.

UnitedHealth Group
More than 100 wounded veterans gathered at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center Oct. 15 prior to the 450-mile UnitedHealthcare California Challenge bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. (Photo Credit: Amy Sullivan)
Tags: UnitedHealthcarePress Release, Social Responsibility, Military