Soldier On sent five riders to participate in the original Help for Heroes Big Battlefield Bike Ride (BBBR) that took place June 14 to June 21.
The eighth annual challenge route took cyclists on an emotional and challenging journey from Paris, France to Windsor, England while visiting the Normandy D-Day beaches.
“We have been sending Soldier On members to the original Big Battlefield Ride every year for the past three years,” Gregory M Lagacé, Soldier On, Joint Personnel Support Unit Headquarters. “This outstanding event, organized by our sister program, UK based charity Help for Heroes, offers our members the opportunity to visit historic World War Two sites while cycling alongside a number of wounded, injured and sick heroes.”
The 350-mile ride was an amazing opportunity for the Canadian cyclists to meet other wounded, injured and sick heroes. However, there was a great deal of training and preparation involved.
“To participate safely in this ride it was required that I build up my bicycle handling skills and cardiovascular fitness so I would be able to sustain long hours riding at various speeds, sometimes within close proximity of other bicyclists,” explained Tom Power, member, Soldier On.
While visiting Juno Beach it hit Power that soldiers landed on beach in pretty much the same weather conditions, worked through incredible odds, and gave their lives so he could have the freedom and privilege to ride his bike with his comrades.
“For me the most memorable part of the ride was when I was given that time to privately reflect right there on Juno Beach. It was a rainy, windy day. As I sat there thinking about the challenges that I was facing in my life, and the immediate challenges of the day, like the weather and my aches and pains I found strength to push through my personal obstacles,” said Power.
The Support Our Troops (SOT) program is an invaluable Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) program administered by Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS).
It is but one element of support that currently exists to help CAF members and their families meet unique challenges and individual circumstances, most often associated with the demands of military service.
The team within CFMWS works closely with Department of National Defence (DND) staff, as well as with provincial and municipal community agencies and other charitable organizations, to help find the best support for CAF members and their families.
Soldier On is under the SOT umbrella. Founded in 2006 Soldier On empowers retired and serving members of the CAF with a visible or non-visible illness or injury to accept their new normal. Participants are encouraged to adopt an active lifestyle through participation in physical, recreational or sporting activities.
“When I was first introduced to Soldier On I was 240 pounds, extremely out of shape dealing with PTSD and other mental illnesses. I was first invited to a ski camp to challenge myself, although very hesitant I accepted. The skiing was exhausting for me, but what I did find very helpful was meeting other soldiers experiencing the same effects of PTSD as me. It was so refreshing to know I was not alone, and no one was judging me,” said Power.
The reintroduction to an active lifestyle enables soldiers to develop new skills, build confidence in their abilities and realize their full potential. Many ill and injured members credit Soldier On with helping them to overcome their challenges and open doors to other life opportunities.
To learn more about Soldier On please visit their website.
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