Dan Schnock is fond of calling it the “new normal.”
It's what a soldier or Marine, wounded in combat, feels every day. The physical abilities they once had might not be quite the same. There might be a limp, or worse. But they're the same person – and they can adjust.
Helping them is Schnock's goal, every day. His tool? The Wounded Warrior Project's “Soldier Ride” program.
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The bike rides, held around the country, are designed to foster a sense of accomplishment and empowerment in injured warriors. The next is scheduled for Boston this Saturday, starting at The Old Manse in Concord.
“Our goal is to empower and enable warriors that they can get back on a bicycle,” said Schnock, the Soldier Ride program director. “They can do things they used to be able to do. That gives them that empowerment to say, 'Yeah, I can do it.'”
The WWP as a whole began simply nearly a decade ago, with the delivery of backpacks of goods delivered to soldiers in military hospitals. It's since grown to an organization with 130 full-time employees headquarted in Jacksonville, Fla.
Soldier Ride began in 2004, when pro cyclist Chris Carney raised more than $1 million for WWP with a coast-to-coast ride. By 2007, there were seven rides nationwide. There are 14 this year, from February until November.
Schnock said he expects 300-400 total riders in Boston's event Saturday, with some 25 wounded warriors participating.
“It's a way we can honor and empower them,” Schnock said. “Our goal is to make the most well-adjusted generation of warriors in our country's history.”