Local

Wounded Vets Cross Florida Keys On Special Bikes

View Comments
(Source: Fla. Keys News Service / ANDY NEWMAN)

(Source: Fla. Keys News Service / ANDY NEWMAN)

Get Breaking News First

Receive News, Politics, and Entertainment Headlines Each Morning.
Sign Up
Top Spots For Shopping In South Florida

MARATHON, Fla. (CBSMiami/AP) — More than 40 wounded warriors participated Saturday in Soldier Ride, a cycling journey across the Florida Keys.

British Army veteran Steve Gill gets a kiss from Delta at the Florida Keys-based Dolphin Research Center Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, in Marathon, Fla., while U.S. Army specialist Josh Wetzel and dolphin trainer Catherine Dunn look on. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

British Army veteran Steve Gill gets a kiss from Delta at the Dolphin Research Center Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, in Marathon, Fla., while U.S. Army specialist Josh Wetzel and dolphin trainer Catherine Dunn look on. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

Soldiers swam with dolphins at Dolphin Research Center late Friday afternoon, shared flipper shakes and learned dolphin-training techniques.

Army 1st Lt. Josh Pitcher, who lost his left leg after an explosion in Afghanistan in April 2012, said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“That was pretty much one of the best things I’ve ever done with my life,” the 24-year-old veteran from Kentucky said.

Pitcher said he felt camaraderie with the dolphins, Tanner and Jax, who also is challenged with missing sections of his dorsal fin and tail.

“And I’m an amputee from an explosion from Afghanistan,” Pitcher said. “It was almost like a bond that we felt in the water, it was pretty cool.

” I know they have service dogs and other service animals, but to be around trained dolphins that you know they ain’t gonna bite you, they’re not going to attack you … they’re just there to play with you …chill out, it’s pretty cool,” he said. “It’s actually very rewarding.”

Participants also crossed the Seven Mile Bridge, the longest of 42 bridges over water that help comprise the Keys Overseas Highway. The bikes were fitted with state-of-the-art adaptive equipment to make the experience possible for many of the riders who were missing one or more limbs.

Organized by the Wounded Warrior Project, Soldier Ride’s mission is to aid injured military personnel who face physical and psychological damage from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The event is to end Sunday in Key West.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,563 other followers