A group of veterans has received new bicycles to replace the 16 bikes stolen from a shed last month at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
UnitedHealthcare donated $50,000 to Ride 2 Recovery, a non-profit organization for vets. The money was used to buy a new fleet of bicycles – 10 road bikes and six mountain bikes – for the organization’s Project HERO (Health Exercise Rehabilitation Opportunity) program. The bikes were presented to the group on the USS Midway flight deck Tuesday.
In late March, 16 bicycles belonging to Ride 2 Recovery were stolen from a storage unit at Naval Medical Center San Diego near Balboa.
The bikes are used by vets as a way to get out of a hospital bed, exercise and clear their heads. Wounded Warriors also use the bikes year-round to manage their injuries and post-traumatic stress, while training in cycling.
“When we go out and ride, it takes our minds of things. It allows us to go outside and get out of our houses and stop thinking about the things that we don’t want to think about anymore,” Ride 2 Recovery veteran Alex Bictorino explained.
John Mateczun, of UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans, said once UnitedHealthcare heard the bikes were stolen, the organization knew it had to help replace all of the bikes to get vets back on the road.
“Whether they’re riding here on the flight deck of the Midway or across Southern California on a road ride, it’s a real privilege for us to be able to provide this opportunity,” Mateczun told NBC 7.
After the ride on the USS Midway flight deck, the Ride 2 Recover veterans planned to take their new bikes for a spin around San Diego.
UnitedHealthcare has been serving as Ride 2 Recovery’s title sponsor for the past six years, providing financial and volunteer support to help America’s injured veterans.
As for the stolen bikes, Naval police were still investigating the theft as of early April but had not made any arrests. Anyone with information on the crime should contact police at (619) 556-1527.