Warrior Ride is this Friday

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By Rachel Johnson, Staff Writer

Friday is the day to show your appreciation to warriors who have sacrificed for freedom.

On Friday, Sept. 28, the Coastal Carolina Tour Warrior Ride 2012 will be cycling through the area. The ride is a four-day event and is the last Warrior Ride of 2012. Rides began in late March and took place in the Carolinas, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Warrior Ride founders Debra and Bob Racine of Oak Island started the nonprofit organization seven years ago as a way to incorporate recreation and rehabilitation and to give back.

“It’s a way of letting the community see some of the costs of this war and showing our gratitude,” Debra Racine said. “We want people out waving flags and hugging necks next week.”

This week, The Brunswick Beacon, together with area business sponsors, has published a special one-page American flag in the newspaper. Everyone is encouraged to display the flag in business and home windows or to wave it as bikers ride by.

This will be the first time the Warrior Ride will pass through southern Brunswick County.

“We thought we’d try to make a change in the route and since we live in Brunswick County we wanted to involve more of our citizenry,” Debra Racine said. “We’ve had over-the-top reception. Everybody wants to be a part of it, and it’s incredible.”

Day three of the four-day event starts at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28, with a welcoming ceremony at Riverside Park in Shallotte.

Riders will then cycle to Shallotte Middle School where students will have a meet-and-greet on the front lawn of the school. At noon the ride will continue down N.C. 179 (Bricklanding Road to Beach Drive) through Ocean Isle Beach. Riders are expected to cross the Sunset Beach Bridge at 1:15 p.m. They will have a picnic lunch in Sunset Beach before riding back across the bridge at 2:15 p.m. and on to Calabash. The ride will conclude at 4 p.m. at Calabash VFW Post 7288 with dinner.

“There will be lots of festivities on Sept. 28 when they arrive to greetings from townspeople and anyone who wants to come to the VFW to meet them,” said VFW member Frank Richardson. “The Post will treat the riders to a dinner and other honors, not to mention the camaraderie.”

“We are trying to coordinate with Ocean Isle Beach, Sunset Beach and Calabash to get people out on the street from Shallotte to Calabash,” said Sara McCullough, Shallotte mayor. “We want people on the street, in parking lots and on sidewalks in front of businesses throughout town.”

The West Brunswick High School Band and JROTC will participate in the opening ceremony at Riverside Park.

McCullough is calling on all civic organizations, churches, businesses and residents to take part by celebrating and waving flags as the riders pass.

“I want them to be recognized,” McCullough said. “They have paid a tremendous price personally. I want to get as many people as we can out on the street; anything we can do to show we care enough to stop what we’re doing to go out and say thank you. I am so glad they are coming here.”

Throughout the ride the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office will provide escort services. Organizers are expecting 30 riders. Each bicycle is retrofitted for each rider’s unique circumstance. The riders are heroes from Fort Eustis, Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune and Fort Gordon.

Anyone who wants to join in and ride beside the warriors is invited to join the parade at any point along the route.

The Coastal Carolina Tour Warrior Ride begins on Sept. 26 in Carolina Beach. Cyclists will stay at the Golden Sands Motel. On Sept. 27 cycling begins in Carolina Beach and continues through Southport. It will end at Virginia Williamson Elementary School. Sept. 28 begins in Shallotte and concludes in Calabash.

Sept. 29 is a community Sun and Fun Ride at Middleton Park in Oak Island. Registration for the Sun and Fun Ride begins at 7:30 a.m. and is open to all who wish to ride. Registration may be done online in advance.

The Warrior Ride is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that uses adaptive bicycling and other morale building events as a tool for recreation and rehabilitation for our wounded heroes.

The program is offered to the participants at no cost and is paid for through donations and grants.

The Warrior Ride recently received word of a $20,000 grant to purchase new adaptive bicycles from the U.S. Olympic Committee and a $5,000 donation from Pepsi Bottling Ventures in Wilmington.

“We are in such a growth spurt right now,” Debra Racine said.

The Racines founded the Warrior Ride in 2005. Bob is a three-tour Vietnam vet who understands the sacrifices made every day by service men and women. This is his way of saying thank you. 

Anyone wanting to know how they can help should call Shallotte town hall at 754-4032.

For more information on The Warrior Ride organization visit www.thewarriorride.org or call 278-4612.