The 10th annual Wounded Warrior Project Solider Ride visits the Florida Keys this weekend — Jan. 9-11. This year’s ride brings about 50 wounded warriors on bicycles, most of whom served in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Solider Ride aims to raise awareness and funds to support the Wounded Warrior program and services.
- Friday, Jan. 9 – the group visits Key Largo and then stops at the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key and the 7 Mile Bridge in Marathon.
- Saturday, Jan. 10 – recreational day fishing, snorkeling, sightseeing with complimentary dinner at Dante’s and other local activities
- Sunday, Jan. 11 – official Solider Ride which departs at Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West at 9:30 a.m. Public encouraged to line the streets to cheer vets on.
On Friday, Dolphin Research Center will host the annual Charles Evans Day for the Wounded Warrior Project, welcoming Soldier Ride when the adaptive cycling event comes through the Florida Keys. For the sixth year in a row, the cyclists and their support group will stop at DRC where soldiers will enjoy a dolphin swim free of charge, thanks to the generosity of the Charles Evans Foundation. The group is expected to arrive between 2 and 2:30 p.m. (The group backtracks to the facility on Grassy Key, after crossing the 7 Mile Bridge.) The public is invited to join DRC staff and volunteers as they line up to give a hero’s welcome to the participants. Admission to DRC is free for current members. Other visitors can pay general admission or become members with their donations when they get to DRC.
These soldiers are coping with life-altering injuries to body, mind and spirit, including amputations, burns, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder. To watch them leave their troubles behind on land for a joyful time swimming with dolphins inspires all who see the experience. For many of the participants, the dolphin swim further empowers them as they courageously battle the physical and psychological damages of war.
The Charles Evans Day for the Wounded Warrior Project at Dolphin Research Center is truly a community event. Before the Dolphin Encounter, they will enjoy a delicious lunch catered by La Trattoria of Key West and desserts baked by DRC volunteers. Captain Hook’s Dive Shop, Marathon, loans them wetsuits and life vests. After the swim, the soldiers also receive complimentary photos and a sterling silver replica charm of Jax the dolphin’s tail flukes, designed by Custom Tails jewelry.
Dolphin Research Center is committed to supporting veterans and active duty personnel from all branches of the United States military.
The Dolphin Research Center is located at MM 59 on Grassy Key. For more information, visit the center’s website at www.dolphins.org.For further information about the Solider Ride route or activities, visit www.soliderride.org/keywest or call Jerry Hughes at 305-240-1136 or Cathy Crane at 305-797-8578.