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Fayetteville man, other wounded veterans cycling in France

Posted June 29, 2011

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— A Fayetteville man once confined to a wheelchair is joining nearly 150 other wounded veterans Wednesday as they travel to France to take part in Ride 2 Recovery, a cycling event that hopes to improve the mental and physical health of injured servicemen.

Sergeant First Class Justin Minyard has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped catch Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, escorted presidents and worked a first responder on 9/11, spending days digging through rubble at the Pentagon looking for survivors and buried remains.

But while rescuing others, he herniated two discs in his lower back, which deteriorated to the point that he could no longer walk.

Confined to a wheelchair, Minyard had three back surgeries in a year ending with fused vertebrae, a titanium cage and rods in his lower back. During his physical recovery, he also underwent intense cognitive rehabilitation for traumatic brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Minyard can now walk short distances but primarily gets around on a Segway. He first participated in a Ride 2 Recovery Challenge in May 2010, when he was still suffering with back pain, as well as brain injuries and PTSD.

Sergeant First Class Justin Minyard Fayetteville man cycling in France with wounded veterans

Minyard has been riding a custom-fit recumbent trike for exercise, something he enjoyed prior to his injuries.

β€œFor me, getting on the bike and riding 20 miles in much more effective than any medicine, any prescription that the doctor could give me," he said. "It's a giant stress-reliever."

Minyard says he participates in events like Ride 2 Recovery to raise awareness about soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with life-changing injuries.

"I hope that if one injured veteran can see me participate in these events, it will inspire him or her to pursue rehabilitative care and attempt to regain independence and the ability to engage and persevere in daily life despite the injuries suffered," he said. "I have regained self esteem, personal motivation and desire to live my life to the fullest despite my injuries sustained serving my country.”

While in France, the group of riders – which includes 121 wounded warriors and veterans of Vietnam or World War II – will visit important World War II sites, culminating on July 8 in a ride to arrive at the finish of Stage 6 of the 2011 Tour de France.

The wounded warriors are connecting via five American Airlines U.S. hub cities for the flight to France: Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Boston, New York City and Miami.


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  • marathonk Jun 30, 2011

    I had the opportunity to escort the first Road 2 Recovery ride as they left Raleigh during their week long ride from Washington DC to Charlotte Motor Speedway. I have been a competitive cyclist for over 20 years, have attended the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia, and raced all over the U.S. Nothing compared to be able to ride with these wounder warriors. Riding with these men and women who suffered wounds while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan was so incredibly inspirational. On this ride were service men and women who were amputees, had severe concussive injuries, survived electrical shock, and other unimaginable injuries. Yet they were undaunted by the challenge of propelling themselves down the road. It my own challenges in life seem so trivial.

    This is a great program that really helps these men and women who have sacrificed so much for their country. Below is link to the website. Please make a contribution if you can.


  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Jun 29, 2011

    What a wonderful blessing for them!!!

    Am so happy for them.

  • houndie Jun 29, 2011

    That's WONDERFUL! So happy he could make the trip.

    Iraq, Afghanistan, almost 10 years later, God bless our troops but end these wars and please bring all of our troops home.

  • CestLaVie Jun 29, 2011

    Oh, I love recumbent bikes. I've been trying to figure out where to ride it if I bought one. Not sure it's worth the exercise investment if I can only ride it up & down my driveway, since NC roads are OUT of the question!! Other posters are right in that aspect.

    I'm glad this event is happening for the vets who can & want to take part in it.

  • Zorg Jun 29, 2011

    ++++Hopefully the drivers in France are more courteous than the drivers of NC.

    Just got back from a visit to France - Provence. Cycling is HUGE over there and the drivers are very courteous. I saw at least a hundred riders, most of them in the 40-60 YO category climbing Mt. Ventoux - not an easy ride with 12% grades.

    France has some of the most beautiful cycling in the world. These guys are gonna have a blast.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Jun 29, 2011

    Thankful someone has organized this event. These veterans deserve something like this to look forward to and enjoy.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 29, 2011

    Bravo, soldier!

    And we know why he had to go to France to ride, right? Because he'd get runover here in NC. Then, people would comment about how he deserved it.

    Of course, if he does get injured (or relapses) while he's in France, he'll be well taken care of, since they have the best healthcare in world.


  • Hammerhead Jun 29, 2011

    mileage, my thoughts exactly.

  • dirkdiggler Jun 29, 2011

    Hopefully the drivers in France are more courteous than the drivers of NC. The last thing wounded veterans need is to get mowed down by someone who has no regard for others on the road.

  • wind4sail Jun 29, 2011

    Have a great ride brothers! We're indebted to you.