President Obama, Vice President Biden and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinsheki welcomed participants of the annual soldier ride, a nearly 60-mile bike ride that benefits the Wounded Warrior Project, to the White House on Thursday. "Biking nearly 60 miles in three days would be a challenge for anybody, but for all of you this is a lot more than a bike ride -- this is a mark of how far you’ve come," Obama said.
The Soldier Ride was started by Chris Carney, a civilian bartender from Long Island, NY, who wanted to raise awareness about troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Carney couldn't make it to the White House Thursday. He now owns a gym. "I think you all inspired him to trade the bar in for some barbells," Obama said. Soldier Rides now take place nationwide.
"Many of you are recovering from devastating injuries, Obama said. "Some of you have had to learn the basics all over again -- how to stand again, how to walk again, how to run again. And now you’re here today because that’s what Soldier Ride is all about -- seeing each other through the finish line."
Obama singled out a number of riders this year, including Master Sgt. Louis Alfonso Ramirez, who lost friends in an ambush in Afghanistan and was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He is doing his fourth ride and credits the Wounded Warriors Project with helping him heal. Lt. Commander John Jae Terry lost his leg after being hit by an IED on patrol in Afghanistan. He was participating in his first ride.
"Every day I have the honor of serving as this country’s Commander-in-Chief," Obama said. "And as long as I have that honor, I will keep fighting to make sure you and your families get the care and treatment and benefits that you have earned and deserve."
And Obama threw a shaka. Hang loose, man.