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Leaving with more than just a medal

By Lance Cpl. Brendan Roethel | | June 28, 2013

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ANNAPOLIS, MD. - Team Walter Reed Bethesda rolled into Annapolis, Md. as they completed the world’s toughest endurance bicycle race, the Race Across America, June 23.

 

The annual 3,000 mile transcontinental race began in Oceanside, Ca. and covered 3,000 miles, taking roughly six to eight days to complete. The racers completed roughly 375 to 500 miles each day during their journey.

 

Team Walter Reed Bethesda, which is supported by service members from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, is comprised of all combat wounded veterans from Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Md., striving to complete a task that most people would not face. The mission of Team Walter Reed   Bethesda is to take wounded warriors and give them an opportunity to set goals and strive to surpass them. The race also serves to keep their competitive nature and warrior spirits alive.

 

“I have made so many friends during this trip,” said Staff Sgt. Dexter Williford, a crew member for Team Walter Reed Bethesda and a section leader for Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting aboard MCAS Beaufort. “Race Across America has brought me closer to not only the cyclists but the military community as a whole. It has opened my eyes to what these veterans go through on a daily basis and what they can accomplish with a little team work.”

 

For the cyclists and crew members, the race provided an opportunity to build lasting   relationships with each other that will last well beyond the finish line. This especially helps the wounded warriors, that after getting medically processed out of the military losse the sense of brotherhood and belonging they had when they served alongside their comrades.

 

“This race has been a great way for me to get out and meet a new challenge with my fellow wounded brothers at my side,” said Justin Gaertner, a racer and wounded warrior with Team Walter Reed Bethesda from Tampa, Fl. “I know there have been some rough spots along the way but we beat this thing together. I can’t wait to see where we all go from here, and I look forward to staying in tough with and maybe even cycling with my team in the future.”
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