Day 2: 2017 UnitedHealthcare Memorial Challenge Blog

Presented by Boeing

May 30, 2017

Miles: 52     Total Miles: 104 

The ride from Manassas to Fredericksburg is rich in Civil War history. The ride began with a visit to the battlefield of Manassas I and II. It was a great talk by the park ranger about the history of the area and what was the first major battle of the war won by the Confederacy.
The city of Fredericksburg saw a lot of action in the 1860's with 4 major battles: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania.  The Battle of Fredericksburg was one of the greatest Confederate victories led by Robert E. Lee with more than 18,000 casualties.

We started our ride this morning under foggy skies and a slight drizzle as we left Manassas and rode to our first stop at the Manassas Battlefield Park, where we learned the story of the Battle of Manassas, one of the most important engagements of the War Between the States. The silent statues and green fields were bathed in the fog, which provided a dramatic and appropriate setting for our visit to a place where so many made the ultimate sacrifice.  
One of our favorite riders of whom we are most proud, Shawn Morelli, has joined us for the 2017 UnitedHealthcare Memorial Challenge presented by Boeing.
Shawn is a rider whose story, personal character and dedication to cycling epitomizes what a powerful force Project Hero can be in the lives of Veterans with injury and PTSD.

Shawn was in the Army and deployed as an engineer officer in Afghanistan in 2007 when she was injured.  Cycling became a vital part of her recovery and Project Hero has been a significant part of that.
Shawn’s first experience with Ride 2 Recovery was the Rocky Mountain Challenge in 2010 and since that time she has achieved greatness including breaking the women’s C4 pursuit world record at the 2016 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships and earning two  gold medals on the track at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016.
“Project Hero helped me lose weight – I went from 198 to 130 pounds and especially helped me get off psych meds,” she said.  “It has allowed me to heal in ways you -- and the doctors – don’t think are possible.  It’s the comradery of the group, its like a family that loves you without judging.
As a longtime supporter of Project Hero, Shawn approves of the growth of our organization.  “It has really advanced, how the organization interacts with soldiers and the community,” she said. “Especially showing people how physical activity gets you off meds and helps you live a normal life again.  It has really helped in getting the military leadership involved with injured Veterans and getting the message out.”
When asked how she has felt coming back to Project Hero as part of the 2017 UnitedHealthcare Memorial Challenge presented by Boeing, she said, “It’s my first ride of the year and I just love the feeling you get when you ride with this group. This lets me return to be among friends who are dealing with the same things as me and who really care. Being here, it just feels like home.”
We are so proud of Shawn and honored to have her with us in this year’s Memorial Challenge!
Tomorrow we ride from historic Fredericksburg to beautiful Richmond Virginia.


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