Tag Archive | "Soldier Ride"

Saddling Up for Soldier Ride

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Last year’s Soldier Ride. Photo by Michael Heller.

Soldier Ride The Hamptons, encompassing both 5-kilometer walks and a 30-mile bike ride, will return this Saturday, July 19, to the East End.

The annual fundraiser project for the Wounded Warrior Project is held in honor of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter who was killed in Iraq in 2008.

The 30-mile bicycle ride to North Haven will set off from Ocean View Farm in Amagansett at 9 a.m. A pair of 5-kilometer walks will leave from Ocean View Farm and Marine Park on Bay Street in Sag Harbor at the same time.

Soldier Ride had its beginnings when Chris Carney, an East Hampton fitness instructor, rode his bicycle from Montauk to California to raise money for wounded soldiers. The fundraising idea was soon adopted by the Wounded Warrior Project.

Registration for this year’s event begins at 7 a.m., with  kick-off celebration at Ocean View Farm taking place at 8:30. There will be  tribute to Lance Cpl. Haerter at 10:30 in Sag Harbor, followed by the Lap of Heroes at 11. The day’s events will culminate with  picnic at Ocean View Farm at noon.

The fee to participate in the bike ride is $60. There is a $25 fee for walker. Participants in the bike ride are asked to raise a minimum of $75 for the Wounded Warrior Project. Those who raise at least $250 will receive a Wounded Warrior Project license plate cover. All participants will receive a commemorative t-shirt.

Donations can also be sent to Wounded Warrior Project, Attn.: Nicole Gordon/Soldier Ride Hamptons, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, Florida 32256.

For more information about signing up, visit the Soldier Ride the Hamptons website.

Riding to Benefit Wounded Warriors

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By David McCabe

This weekend, hundreds will once again ride their bicycles between Sag Harbor, Amagansett and Montauk to raise money for the veterans’ organization Wounded Warrior during the annual Soldier Ride The Hamptons event.

The event is being held in honor of Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter, as it has been since 2008, when the Sag Harbor native was killed while deployed in Iraq.

Participants can ride a 30 mile route or a 60 mile route. There are also two 5k walks — one that starts and ends in Sag Harbor, and another that will be held in Amagansett. The bike ride begins at 9 a.m. in Amagansett, at Ocean View Farm, and goes west to Sag Harbor before returning to the starting point. Those who are biking the longer route also start their ride in Amagansett, but continue on to Montauk Lighthouse before riding back to Ocean View Farms.

At 10:30 a.m., there will be a tribute to Haerter in Sag Harbor’s Marine Park, and at 11 a.m., the so-called Lap of Heroes will take place, where veterans ride down the village’s Main Street. As riders cross the Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge to North Haven, bagpipe players will salute the bicyclists while a vintage Navy helicopter will lower a wreath onto the bridge. Among those riding will be Marines who served with Haerter.

Haerter’s mother, JoAnn Lyles, said that those Marines have been a source of support since her son’s death.

“They constantly keep in touch with me. Marines are a true brotherhood and they show it that way,” she said. “I get Mother’s Day cards and things like that.”

Participants can register for the ride online up until 5 p.m. on Friday or they can sign up to ride on the day of the event in Amagansett starting at 7 a.m. For people ages 21 and older, the ride costs $50, and the 5k walks cost $25. The Sag Harbor walk begins in Marine Park.

All net proceeds benefit Wounded Warrior, which provides services to returning veterans that help them transition back to civilian life. When the organization was founded, it would distribute backpacks containing essential items like clothing and books to returning injured service members who had been shipped back from military medical centers without their possessions.

Soldier Ride began as a one man affair, when East Hampton bartender Chris Carney decided he wanted to do something to help returning veterans. He biked across the country in 2004, raising funds for Wounded Warrior.

The next year, he was joined for parts of his ride by other supporters and veterans. Wounded Warrior eventually officially incorporated Soldier Ride into their programming and the cross-country rides for smaller, community events.

Soldier Ride the Hamptons is not the only such event on the East End: Soldier Ride North Fork is held in honor of Lt. Joseph Theinert, a Shelter Island native who was killed in action in June, 2010.

For Wounded Warrior, Soldier Ride the Hamptons represents a chance to raise awareness of their programs and funds for their services.

For Lyles, the ride represents a chance for the community to remember her son, four years after his death.

“Just that it gets Jordan’s name mentioned again, that’s the part that’s nice for me. His story is told and it’s repeated and people might go home with that story and tell somebody else so that’s what I like about it,” she said.

Lyles said that Soldier Ride also acts as a rehabilitative event, because wounded veterans participate — providing them with a much-needed confidence boost.

“Bringing the wounded warriors up from Walter Reed lets them know that they can accomplish something,” she said. “It gets them on the road to recovery.”

Piece of History

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by Michael Heller

On Wednesday, November 16, Sag Harbor received a special piece of American history when a small section of steel from the World Trade Center was brought to its new home at the Sag Harbor Fire Department headquarters building on Brick Kiln Road. The triangular-shaped artifact, which measures roughly 30 inches by 12 inches by 8 inches and weighs approximately 140 pounds, was transported from New York City by the fire department’s aerial ladder truck. Similar shards of steel from the Trade Center have already been delivered to communities across the country where they have been incorporated into memorials commemorating the 9/11 attacks.

The arrival of the steel here marks the culmination of a year-long project by writer and photographer Barbara Lang, Soldier Ride organizer Reggie Cornelia and JoAnn Lyles, mother of fallen Marine Jordan Haerter. Lang, who has extensively documented the World Trade Center disaster, knew Cornelia from being involved in the Soldier Ride project. Together, Lang and Cornelia approached Lyles and told her about their idea to bring a piece of the towers to Sag Harbor, suggesting that it would be a good thing for the Sag Harbor Fire Department and the community in general.

During the ensuing year Lyles filled out and submitted and sifted through “mountains of paperwork and red tape” as part of the application process. During that time, Sag Harbor’s Doris Gronlund, mother of Linda Gronlund who perished on United Airlines Flight 93 on 9/11, donated an American flag to the fire department that bears the names of all who were killed on that day. As the project gained momentum, the Sag Harbor Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary then joined the effort by presenting a plan to build a September 11th memorial garden within which to display the steel.

With the application approved, the aerial ladder truck, accompanied by Doris Gronlund and Sag Harbor Fire Department Chiefs Pete Garypie and John Anderson, was driven to Kennedy Airport to pick up the artifact early on Wednesday morning, arriving back in Sag Harbor at roughly 10:30 a.m., where a small installation ceremony took place.

According to Chief Garypie, the plans for the memorial garden have not been finalized, although he said that at this time, the thinking is that it will be located next to the firehouse near the corner of Columbia Street and Brick Kiln Road, and will be paved with bricks that can be purchased by the public in memory of deceased firefighters. The steel will remain on display in the main hallway at the fire department until the completion of the garden, which he hopes will be sometime in the spring.

Soldier Ride Honors Haerter and Wounded, Raises $200k

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From Main Street to  Long Beach, Sag Harbor was dripping in red, white and blue on Saturday, as cyclists and walkers participated in the Soldier Ride, the Hamptons, to honor Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter. JoAnn Lyles, Haerter’s mother, said it was poignant to watch as several disabled soldiers and marines rode on adaptive bikes over the bridge linking Sag Harbor and North Haven, which was recently renamed in her son’s honor, a Sag Harbor native who was killed last year in Iraq. A number of local veterans formed a line on the median, each holding an American flag and saluting the service men and women, many without limbs, as they paddled by.

Over 400 people registered to participate in Saturday’s event, but including the crowds of locals and visitors who cheered the cyclists and walkers on, Haerter’s father Christian believed closer to 800 people were in attendance. The event was comprised of a 28-mile or 65-mile bike ride and a 4-mile walk from Long Wharf to Long Beach. The 28-mile route started at the Amagansett American Legion, went through Sag Harbor and ended in Amagansett. The 65-mile route ended at the Montauk Lighthouse. A ceremony was held mid-way through the event on the Long Wharf. Haerter’s parents, Reggie Cornelia, a Soldier Ride organizer, actor Dan Akroyd, and the Lieutenant of Jordan’s platoon, Lieutenant Dan Runzheimer, spoke at the ceremony.

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According to Chris Carney, one of the founders of Soldier Ride, the event and a silent auction held on Saturday raised around $200,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project, a not-for-profit organization aimed at providing support for wounded service men and women.

“Checks are still coming in . . . but all said and done we raised over $200,000 which in this current economic atmosphere is amazing,” noted Carney. “We didn’t have a target [for our fundraising] . . . While the funds are desperately needed for the Wounded Warrior Project to continue, when they, [the service men and women], come up here it is really about them.”

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Soldier Ride, said Carney, is also a rehabilitative event, meant to connect wounded service men and women and help them remain active despite their disabilities. As the cyclists completed a victory lap through Main Street, the public seemed to be touched by these men and women’s perseverance.

“ I think a lot of people read about the sacrifices [made by service men and women], but when you are confronted with somebody who has lost their leg, they realize that this is a reality,” remarked Haerter. “I saw a lot of people weeping when they saw [the cyclists’] determination and pride.”

Almost 26 Marines from Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter’s platoon cycled in the event. The celebrations on Saturday, however, were bittersweet for these marines. On Friday, they learned a former member of their platoon Corporal Nicholas Xiarhos, who fought alongside Haerter, was recently killed in Afghanistan. As the young men made their way back to Amagansett, they took a detour to Oakland Cemetery, where Haerter is buried, to pay their respects.

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The men, along with 24 others, made up “Team Jordan” which was sponsored by Lyles and Christian Haerter. The team, said Haerter, raised almost $17,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project, far exceeding his expectations.

According to Carney, the event in Sag Harbor will most likely be held again next year.

“I had so many people come up to me one Sunday, saying ‘next year we should do this.” They want to get more involved,” said Carney. “Soldier Ride continues to snowball as the word gets out . . . We are a unique organization because you can see and be apart of the people you are helping.”


Chris Carney

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The East Hampton native talks about Soldier Ride, the rehabilitative event and fundraiser this Saturday, July 25, which will benefit the The Wounded Warrior Project and honor Sag Harbor’s own Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter.

 

This year’s local Solider Ride event features two bike routes – one 28-miles and another 65 miles – as well as two four mile walks, one in Amagansett and one in Sag Harbor. How has the response been so far?

It’s bigger than ever. We have more riders, more soldiers, the fact that we have 20 soldiers coming up from Walter Reed as well as 20 active-duty marines from Jordan’s unit, it’s pretty amazing. We will also have six Israeli soldiers riding with us.

 

Last year’s event was also in honor of Lance Corporal Haerter, but this year, going through Sag Harbor, does it feel any different?

Totally. We went to his memorial in Sag Harbor when they dedicated the monument and the bridge in his name and the fact that we are riding over the bridge and all his buddies are coming up is incredible. I feel like we can’t do anything for those that have fallen, like Jordan who died saving these guys, but if we can do everything we can to take care of these guys who do come back hurt, it is the best way we can memorialize them.

The fact is there are a lot of guys we can’t help. There were four killed in Afghanistan yesterday – it’s the bloodiest month in Afghanistan since the wars over there started. People get kind of used to hearing the numbers come in, but a lot of guys are still coming back and need our help. The need for the resources to take care of these guys is still very real.

 

Four years ago you started Solider Ride with a cross-country trip to benefit The Wounded Warrior Project, an organization dedicated to providing resources and support for wounded soldiers returning from overseas combat. As organizers, why was the decision made to host regional events rather than the cross-country cycling tours?

Well we found that it was a lot to ask a couple guys to go all the way cross country and we developed the kind of ties to a number of communities where it was no longer necessary to have someone ride through the middle of the desert for this cause. As it evolved from a fundraiser to a rehabilitative event, we wanted to start choosing places these wounded soldiers riding with us actually wanted to go. So we have seven or eight regional rides a year – Miami to Key West, the New York ride which finishes out here in Montauk, they do a Las Vegas ride and the high desert, they do a ride in Nashville, the coast of California, in Texas. In each year we come back to these communities they come out stronger and stronger for these soldiers. So the fact that we started this here in East Hampton and Montauk, it’s nice to see this has led the way on a national level.

 

Correct me if I am wrong, but did this not all start four years ago with a group of guys sitting at the bar of The Stephen Talkhouse talking about what they could do to help wounded soldiers?

It did. [Stephen Talkhouse owner] Peter [Honerkamp] through one of his many fundraisers for [retired Master Gunnery Sergeant] John Hernandez of Long Island, raised a lot of money, but also had a lot of expenses, so we were trying to think of a way to raise a lot of money without a lot of overhead. At first biking cross-country seemed like a farfetched idea that would be dismissed, but it wasn’t.

 

Do you go to these events held around the country?

I try and go to one or two every year. It keeps me involved and up to date. It has gotten hard. I wish I could go to more, but I get caught up in work and life and everything else, but I get copied on e-mails and people send me pictures so I stay in touch with a lot of these guys. There is a whole other group of guys now. All the guys I knew when I was really active in it, that I went to see and rode with, they have all moved on. Every time I go I see new faces, which is bittersweet because you know you are touching more people, but at the same time that means there are more people getting hurt.

 

While Soldier Ride has obviously had an impact on a number of lives, how has it changed yours?

I try not to sweat the small stuff. I feel humbled in that way. I get caught up in my daily life like everyone else, but then I get copied on an e-mail and it reminds me of what is important.

 

Are you going to complete the full 65-mile ride on Saturday?

I am going to try. It has been awhile.

 

Where did the idea come from to do the ride down Main Street, Sag Harbor with wounded soldiers and Jordan’s company?

Out here in the land of celebrities and all of that, I feel like these guys are the ultimate celebrities, especially considering what they have sacrificed – a lot of these guys are coming back having lost limbs, burned and their lives forever altered for our sake. It is a chance for us to show them our community loves them.

 

Jordan’s mother has enjoyed her involvement with Soldier Ride. How has it been having her on board?

We are happy and honored to have her a part of the team and if she continues to lead us the way she has the future for Soldier Ride here in East Hampton looks very bright.

 

Solider Ride will be held this Saturday, July 25. Registration for cyclists is $50 or $25 for those 21 years old and under. Registration for walkers costs $25. Participants can register from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the American Legion in Amagansett or from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. The opening ceremonies will be held at the Amagansett American Legion at 9:45 a.m. For more information, visit empirestatechallenge.org

Solider Ride to Honor Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter

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For the second year in a row, Solider Ride, the Hamptons is dedicated to Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, a marine who was killed a year ago in Iraq, but this year’s event will bring the fundraiser to Haerter’s hometown of Sag Harbor.

Soldier Ride, the Hamptons will take place on Saturday, July 25 and will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization founded by Joe Melia to provide support for U.S. servicemen and women returning to the United States after overseas combat. Whether it be Wounded Warrior’s signature backpack filled with toiletries, amenities and clothing, or outreach, career counseling, advocacy, family and coping services, the Wounded Warrior Project is dedicated to providing resources for servicemen and women returning from overseas, many with life altering injuries.

Soldier Ride has also evolved to become a rehabilitative sporting event for injured soldiers, some who are learning to live with injuries that have resulted in amputation.

This year’s route for both the 28-mile or 65-mile bike ride or four mile walk brings the event through Sag Harbor Village, with a special tribute to Lance Corporal Haerter scheduled to begin on Long Wharf at 11:30 a.m., roughly half way through part of the scheduled bike ride. The Sag Harbor walk will commence after the tribute with “Honor Our Heroes,” which will feature Chris Carney, an East Hampton resident who took part in the inaugural cross country Soldier Ride in 2004, and the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines riding down Main Street and over the Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge leading the beginning of the Sag Harbor leg of the event.

Participants can choose to just be a part of the Sag Harbor walk or can ride in the 28-mile cycling event that will loop riders from the Amagansett American Legion through Sag Harbor and back to Amagansett. A 65-mile event will have cyclists start in Amagansett bring them through Sag Harbor and end at the Montauk Lighthouse, a Soldier Ride tradition since that first cross country ride began there in 2004. The following year, the cross-country cycle ended there as well.

Haerter’s mother, JoAnn Lyles, who along with Jordan’s father, Christian Haerter, have sponsored a team in their son’s name, remembers Carney’s inaugural trek – the first of what has become many Soldier Ride events nationwide. She said on Tuesday it was not until last year, when the organization honored Jordan’s sacrifice, that she became involved in the group.

Lance Corporal Haerter, a 2006 graduate of Pierson High School, was killed outside the city of Ramadhi in April of 2008. The 19-year-old U.S. Marine had just reached the one-month mark in his first tour of duty in Iraq when a suicide bomber drove into a checkpoint he was guarding, detonating the vehicle. The actions and sacrifice of Lance Corporal Haerter and Corporal Jonathan Yale of Virginia, both of whom died trying to stop the suicide bomber, saved the lives of over 50 marines and members of the Iraqi police force, according to military reports.

Lance Corporal Haerter has posthumously received the highest of military honors, including the Navy Cross Medal and the Purple Heart Medal. 

Since his death, the Sag Harbor/North Haven Bridge was renamed in his honor, and his father has begun Jordan’s Initiative, a memorial fund to supply deployed troops and returning servicemen and women resources.

For Lyles, getting involved with the Wounded Warrior Project and Soldier Ride is something she feels she can do to give back in a meaningful way, but acknowledged being a part of the organization has also helped her.

“I think I can offer them a lot in terms of being a local, but this also does so much for me,” she said on Tuesday. “It feels good to be proactive and doing proactive things to help such an important cause.”

Reg Cornelia is one of several Solider Ride coordinators who has ensured the project’s success over the last five years. Stephen Talkhouse owner Peter Honerkamp helped conceive the idea with Carney taking on the roll of cross country bike rider for two summers, raising thousands for the Wounded Warrior Project and beginning Soldier Ride, which now has events across the country.

On Tuesday, Cornelia said once the group heard about Jordan’s death in Iraq, they felt it was appropriate to honor the Sag Harbor native in any way they could.

“That is what this program is about, recognizing and appreciating what these guys are doing,” said Cornelia.

Lyles has sponsored “Team Jordan” for the second year in a row and already has 29 members competing in Jordan’s name. Another team will also be made up of over two-dozen marines flying in from Iraq, some who served with Jordan, said Lyles. A flyover, the Patriot Guard lining the Lance Corporal Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, and the “Honor our Heroes” lap will also be a part of the tribute to Jordan. This year Lyles said she looks forward to being able to talk with marines and servicemen and women who participate in this year’s event.

“It will definitely be an emotional time, but a good time,” she said. “Last year, it was still too fresh and I met a lot of these people, but I was not able to talk to them as much as I would have liked. This year, I want to talk to them more.”

Riders and walkers interested in signing up to participate in Soldier Ride on July 25 can register online at http://soldierride.kintera.org/faf/home. The site is also available for those who wish to donate to the organization. Early registration will be held on July 18 and July 19 at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett and at the Windmill on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 267-3142.

Soldiers Ride For Jordan

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For Chris Carney, the personal trainer who made the inaugural Soldier Ride trek cross country in 2004, dedicating this year’s Empire State Challenge to Sag Harbor resident Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter is the least the organization can do to honor his memory.

“Jordan and many of his fellow Marines have paid the ultimate price, and at the very least I feel the greatest thing we can do to honor him is take care of the soldiers we take care of every year through this organization,” said Carney on Tuesday. “We are in Jordan’s backyard — it’s the natural thing to do, but still, I do feel we just can’t do enough.”

On Saturday, July 26 the Wounded Warrior Project’s Solider Ride Empire State Challenge, Manhattan to Montauk will culminate with a local cycling and walking event from Amagansett to Montauk in memory of Lance Cpl. Haerter. Haerter, a 2006 Pierson High School graduate, was killed outside the city of Ramadhi in Iraq in April. The 19-year-old U.S. Marine had just reached the one-month mark of his first tour when a suicide bomber drove into the checkpoint he was guarding and detonated. His actions and sacrifice, said military officials, saved over 30 lives that day.

The trek will begin at the American Legion in Amagansett and end at the Montauk Point Lighthouse, where Carney began and ended his cross-country journeys, which raised millions for the Wounded Warrior organization.

Wounded Warrior is a non-profit organization founded by Joe Melia to provide support for U.S. servicemen and women — whether it be their signature backpacks filled with toiletries, amenities and clothing for wounded soldiers returning to United States, outreach, career counseling, advocacy, family and coping services.

In 2004 Carney completed his first cross-country cycle to support the organization under the newly created banner of Soldier Ride. Stephen Talkhouse owner Peter Honerkamp helped coordinate the event and continues to do so through The Talkhouse offices.

In 2005, Soldier Ride evolved, and Staff Sergeants Heath Calhoun, and Ryan Kelley and other combat wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan joined Carney for the grueling trek, beginning Soldier Ride’s commitment to providing rehabilitative sporting events for wounded men and women returning from combat overseas.

“One of the great things is, first of all, it takes soldiers out of the hospital who’ve just suffered traumatic injuries,” said Honerkamp. “It empowers them and also sets an example for the incoming wounded.”

Soldier Ride has continued to evolve to focus on smaller regional rides in an effort to allow more participants.  The Empire State Challenge is the first event the general public will be able to join in, whether they opt to take on the 62-mile trek, a 35-mile challenge or a four-mile walk.

“The studs will go the 65, other people the 35 and then there’s a walk as well,” said Honerkamp.

In addition to a number of servicemen and women, as well as regional race participants, five Israeli soldiers from the second Lebanon war will be riding. It is the second year Israeli soldiers have joined in a Soldier Ride event after the organization was contacted through Friends of the Israeli Defense Fund.

Haerter’s parents, JoAnn Lyles and Chris Haerter will both walk in the event under a Team Jordan banner, which as of press time had raised over $7,500, almost a fifth of the $50,000 the event hopes to generate. Total donations had topped $27,000 by Wednesday afternoon.

Lyles expects some of Jordan’s Pierson High School classmate to join her at the event, as well as Corporal Christopher Scherer’s family. Corporal Scherer was an East Northport resident who was killed by a sniper bullet in 2007. The Scherer family came to Lance Corporal Haerter’s wake, remembered Lyles.

“It’s a sad club to belong to, but we’re Gold Star parents,” she said. “You get in touch that way … They know what we’re going through.”

Event registration for the Soldier Ride Empire State Challenge will be held from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the American Legion Post on Route 27 in Amagansett, with opening ceremonies and the race beginning at 10 a.m. The cost is $50 for adults, $25 for children 15 and under. For more information, call 267-3142.

Written by Kathryn G. Menu with additional reporting by John Bayles. 

 

A Cause Everyone Can Get Behind

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This spring we were a community in mourning, a community with a treasured son taken from us far too soon, a community who gathered with solemn hearts to say good-bye while the heavens delivered torrents of rain making us all wonder if the heavens knew what a heartbreaking day this was for the Village of Sag Harbor.

As with any loss, we have continued our daily lives, not forgetting Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter and paying tribute to his memory, each in our own way. This Saturday we all have an opportunity to honor Jordan in a truly substantive and vital way. Starting at 10 a.m. Soldier Ride, an organization that formed in Amagansett to aid the Wounded Warrior Project, will begin the East End portion of its Empire State Challenge — a trek from Amagansett to Montauk.

This event is tailored with the concept of being all-inclusive offering the athletic 62 and 35-mile cycling challenges, as well as a four-mile walking challenge. It is an opportunity to come together as a community and raise money in Jordan’s name for a cause he would surely support — providing assistance and encouragement for the men and women who have returned to our shores after serving overseas and are now facing life-changing injuries.

Supporting a program like the Wounded Warrior Project is the very definition of “supporting our troops,” no matter what one’s stance is on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wounded Warriors’ reach begins when many of our troops return to army medical centers like Walter Reed where they are greeted with backpacks filled with essential care and comfort items like toiletries, clothing, a CD player, and more — a seemingly small gift, but wholly important for someone returning home to a hospital, needing a sense of normalcy above all else.

But their effort does not end with toothbrushes and playing cards. Wounded Warrior has evolved to include outreach programs, employment support, advocacy, coping programs, rehabilitation programs like Soldier Ride — its reach is virtually endless and its benefits evident in the organization’s rapid growth over the last five years.

On Saturday, we will all have the opportunity to celebrate Jordan’s memory and name with his family and friends. More importantly we will have the chance to celebrate a better future for many servicemen and women who will come home under happier circumstances, but who still need our support.